Archive for June, 2011

US creates Syrian roadmap — that keeps Assad!

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

By now, there are very few voices heard supporting Syrian dictator Bashar Assad. The US has finally condemned Assad — Hillary Clinton has stopped calling him a ‘reformer’ (see Ms Clinton’s op-ed in the Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper for a recent public expression of the US position). But it has not demanded that he leave.

Much of the radical Left has decided that the best course is to simply ignore what’s going on in Syria, and concentrate on — what else — the horrible oppression of the Palestinian Arabs. For example, CodePink’s list of hot ‘issues’ includes these:

Bring Our War $$ Home
Hands Off WikiLeaks
War Criminals
AHAVA: Stolen Beauty
Move Over AIPAC
Ground the Drones
Gaza Freedom March

Not a word about what’s happening in Syria, where video and other accounts reliably indicate that Assad’s security forces are systematically torturing, raping and killing people whom they believe are opposed to the regime. A true humanitarian crisis exists among Syrian refugees in Turkey and Lebanon (attention flotilla people: here’s a real opportunity to be ‘humanitarians’).

Assad has also apparently found a friend in Rep. Dennis Kucinich.

Now the Guardian has published what is purported to be a US-developed “roadmap” for a Syrian transition to democracy that does not call for Assad to step down:

Syrian opposition sources have revealed that the US state department has been discreetly encouraging discussion of the unpublished draft document which circulated at an unprecedented opposition conference held on Monday in Damascus. The US ambassador is urging dialogue with the regime, the sources say.

Assad would oversee what the roadmap calls “a secure and peaceful transition to civil democracy”. It calls for tighter control over the security forces, the disbanding of “Shabiha” gangs accused of atrocities, the legal right to peaceful demonstrations, extensive media freedoms, and the appointment of a transitional assembly.

The carefully phrased 3,000-word document demands a “clear and frank apology” and accountability for organisations and individuals who “failed to accommodate legitimate protests”, and compensation for the families of victims of repression. The opposition says 1,400 people have been killed since mid-March. The government says 500 members of the security forces have died.

It does not attack the president or other regime figures by name. It calls for the ruling Ba’ath party to be subject to a new law on political parties – though the party would still provide 30 of 100 members for a proposed transitional national assembly. Seventy others would be appointed by the president in consultation with opposition nominees – which will still leave Assad in a powerful position.

Assad has made positive noises about some of the ‘reforms’ mentioned in the document. This is taken by some as an indication that the policy has promise. But if we take Assad’s prior behavior as a guide, this is absolute nonsense. Over and over he’s made commitments to the US that he did not keep, and we’ve kept coming back for more.

A State Department source suggests that we can’t call for his ouster if we are not prepared to back it up by military action. But that’s nonsense — we certainly had no intention to intervene militarily in Egypt when Obama sent a clear message to Mubarak that it was time to leave.

Another argument is that the opposition is disorganized. That may be, but it’s not a good reason not to support and encourage them. This rebellion has been going on for about 3 months with people being shot down in the streets from the start. Demonstrations are bigger than ever — they are not giving up.

The same sources like to claim that Israel would like to see Assad remain in power. Why they believe this is mysterious, because Israel has been at pains to deny it over and over.

This is yet another roadmap to nowhere — except more Syrians tortured, raped and murdered. Supposedly, Obama wants to be liked in the Arab world. Well, here’s an easy way to make points:

As Barry Rubin said almost two months ago,

There is no excuse for President Obama not to utter six simple words: The Assad dictatorship must go now.

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The flotilla will fizzle

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011
Mysteriously damaged propeller shaft of the Gaza flotilla ship Juliano Mer, in Greece

Mysteriously damaged propeller shaft of the Gaza flotilla ship Juliano Mer, in Greece

As you probably know, yet another ‘flotilla’ is on its way to Gaza. At least one ship has already left port, another mysteriously suffered crippling damage to its propeller shaft, and an American ship called “The Audacity of Hope” is preparing to set out with a cargo composed of letters from concerned Americans, about 36 activists (the cream of the extreme Left, including author Alice Walker), and 10 journalists. Some of the other ships are carrying ‘humanitarian aid’.

The flotilla is being organized by hard-core anti-Israel groups such as the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), the Free Gaza Movement, the European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza, and the Turkish Islamist IHH — the folks that gave us the Mavi Marmara incident.

The activists claim that their mission is to bring medicines, etc. to Gaza, and to break the blockade so that Gaza will be free to ‘trade with the world’.

Although you still see references to deprivation in Gaza, even UN observers admit that there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza. The border to Egypt is open, and thousands of tons of food and medicines come through the crossings from Israel every day — more, in fact, than the entire flotilla could carry. Gaza is ranked 101 of out 178 in the Human Development Index, a measure of quality of life — above almost all of Africa and Central America, and many Arab countries including Egypt (119) and Pakistan (136).

In any event, Israel and Egypt announced that ships carrying cargoes for Gaza can unload at Ashdod in Israel or El Arish in Egypt, where the cargo will be examined and transferred to Gaza. Naturally, this option was unacceptable to the organizers.

What cannot go through the crossings from Israel, and only with difficulty through Egypt, are weapons. This is the reason for the blockade — you can’t expect Israel to allow Iranian missiles into Gaza! The blockade is legal under international law.

According to the internationally recognized Law of the Sea, a blockade must be ‘effective’ in order to be legal. That is, you can’t selectively allow some ships to pass and stop others. Since Israel wants to keep its blockade legal, it must intercept the ships of the flotilla.

Once the blockade becomes ineffective, it will be harder for Israel to prevent the importation of weapons. That’s one of the flotilla’s objectives.

There is another goal, and that is to delegitimize Israel’s use of force for self-defense. Flotilla organizers almost certainly want to create an incident for which they can accuse Israel of disproportionate use of force. The ‘activists’ on board some of the ships are training to use ‘passive resistance’ against IDF boarding parties. Army sources have told the press that that there are also plans to try to kill or seriously injure them, in a replay of last May’s Mavi Marmara affair.

The best thing that can happen, from the organizers’ point of view, is that IDF personnel will injure or kill some of the passengers and it can be played as aggression rather than self-defense. Of course the IDF commandos have been training to prevent this. Both training and intelligence will be far better than in 2010 and it’s highly unlikely that the organizers will achieve their goal.

The ’embedded’ journalists include some from major media outlets, including the NY Times, CNN and CBS. There is likely to be a symbiotic relationship between the activists who want publicity and the journalists who are looking for emotion and excitement to sell.

In my opinion, this will be a dud. The ships will not land in Gaza, none of the activists will be killed, and the NY Times, CNN and CBS will have an expensive non-story.

I know it’s childish and would have absolutely the wrong outcome, but does anyone remember the scene from the awful film “Sink the Bismarck” where the Bismarck destroys the HMS Hood with a single volley?

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PCHR smeared for being soft on Zionists

Monday, June 27th, 2011

Yesterday I wrote about a declaration issued by 12 “human rights” groups condemning the treatment of Gilad Shalit, but pointedly not calling for his release.

One of them, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), has issued a furious communiqué denouncing its defamation by some local media outlets, which incorrectly accused it of — imagine  — demanding Shalit’s release. PCHR writes,

On Monday morning, 27 June 2011, a number of local websites published a news item entitled “The Palestinian Center for Human Rights Demands Releasing Shalit.” In the article they claimed that a Palestinian human rights organization joined Zionist human rights organizations in their demand to release the Zionist solider, Gilad Shait, with total disregard both for the suffering of Palestinian prisoners and war crimes committed by the [Israeli] occupation against them.”

This assault followed PCHR’s signature on a joint statement by international and Israeli human rights organizations on 24 June 2011. The statement demanded that the Israeli soldier, Gilad Shait, who has been held by Palestinian resistance groups for five years, be treated as a prisoner of war according to international law.

The press release lists 10 points that PCHR wishes to emphasize. Here are a few of them:

1. What has been published in the media is an explicit and intentional fallacy, whose purpose is to defame PCHR and its status.

2. The above statement does not demand the release of Shalit, but it stresses that Shalit has the right to be visited by the International Committee of the Red Cross, and to be treated humanely according to international standards.

In other words, PCHR thinks that to ask that a young man who has spent the last five years of his life (if indeed he remains alive) in an underground cell be released would blacken its reputation as a fighter for the Palestinian Cause.

5. PCHR has always emphasized that Shalit was captured on his tank inside the Gaza Strip during an armed clash with Palestinian resistance activists, who practiced their legitimate right to resist the occupation. However, this does not deny the necessity to treat him, and all Palestinian resistance activists, humanely.

Almost every word of this statement is false. Gilad Shalit was kidnapped by a group of Palestinian terrorists five years and one day ago, after they crossed into Israel through a tunnel dug underneath the border fence near the Kerem Shalom crossing and attacked an army installation there. In the ensuing fight two Israeli soldiers were killed and four wounded, including Shalit, who was dragged back into Gaza through the tunnel.

Gaza was not occupied by Israel, which had evacuated every single Israeli soldier and civilian, including the dead that were buried there, in 2005.

This is particularly relevant because PCHR, as NGO Monitor reports, was a major contributor to the UN’s viciously false Goldstone Report: PCHR “provided 75 minutes of testimony to the mission, and was quoted 50 times in the document.” Do you think the ‘testimony’ was true or objective? I don’t.

10. The suffering of the captured soldier’s mother is the same of thousands of Palestinian mothers who wish freedom for their sons.

The more than a thousand Palestinian prisoners in Israel demanded by Hamas in return for Shalit have been convicted of crimes including multiple murders and terrorism. There is no equivalence between these terrorists and Shalit, who is best described as a hostage.

These prisoners have been granted far more privileges than required by international law. Recently, after Hamas refused to allow the Red Cross to visit Shalit or even to provide proof that he is alive,  PM Netanyahu announced that Palestinian prisoners would no longer be allowed to study for college degrees by correspondence while incarcerated — although those who had already matriculated would be allowed to continue!

PCHR gets financial support from the following (per NGO Monitor):

…the European Union and the governments of Ireland, Denmark, Netherlands, Switzerland, and Norway. NGO Development Center (NDC – governments of Switzerland, Sweden, Netherlands, Denmark) allocated $425,000 to PCHR in 2010-2012.Private organizations providing funding include: Ford Foundation (USA), International Commission of Jurists (Sweden), Open Society Foundations (OSI – US), Christian Aid (UK), Grassroots International (US), Kvina Till Kvina (Sweden), Al-Quds Association Malaga (Spain), Oxfam Novib (Netherlands), Trocaire (Ireland), CARE (West Bank/Gaza), ACSUR (Spain), DanChurchAid (Denmark), and the Welfare Association.

I am happy to help publicize PCHR’s outrage at being smeared as showing inadequate support for the Cause, which of course is the destruction of the state of Israel and the death or dispersion of its Jewish inhabitants.

And might I add that every dollar donated to PCHR by the donors listed above enables them to continue to work alongside Hamas to accomplish this.

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Moty & Udi and human rights

Sunday, June 26th, 2011

It’s true. They want Hamas to treat its hostage better. But they pointedly do not ask for his release.

I am going to reproduce this incredible document and the list of signatories in full:

Hamas: Human Beings are not Bargaining Chips
End Inhumane and Illegal Treatment of Gilad Shalit
June 24, 2011

Marking five years since the capture of Gilad Shalit, Israeli, Palestinian and international human rights organizations state:

Hamas must immediately end inhumane and illegal treatment of Gilad Shalit.

Staff Sergeant Gilad Shalit has been in captivity for five years. Those holding him have refused to allow him to communicate with his family, nor have they provided information on his well-being and the conditions in which he is being held. The organizations stress that this conduct is inhumane and a violation of international humanitarian law.

Hamas authorities in Gaza must immediately end the cruel and inhuman treatment of Gilad Shalit. Until he is released, they must enable him to communicate with his family and should grant him access to the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Amnesty International
B’Tselem – The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories
Bimkom: Planners for Planning Rights
Gisha – Legal Center for Freedom of Movement
Human Rights Watch [HRW]
International Federation for Human Rights
Palestinian Center for Human Rights, Gaza
Physicians for Human Rights – Israel
Public Committee Against Torture in Israel
Rabbis for Human Rights
The Association for Civil Rights in Israel
Yesh Din – Volunteers for Human Rights

On Friday, these so-called “human rights” advocates opened their minds, stunted by greed and egotism, and let the world see their unspeakable contents. Here a few obvious items on display:

  • The practical effect of their position is to support Hamas’ demands for a hugely unbalanced ‘prisoner exchange’ in which more than a thousand prisoners, including murderers, will be released. A demand for Shalit’s immediate release would work against Hamas’ plan to extract a ransom too high for Israel to safely pay.
  • By calling for this young man to be treated ‘humanely’ but not calling for his release, they affirm that by their lights it is an acceptable policy to take a hostage and keep him in a hole for five years (so far) as long as he is allowed to correspond with his parents and meet with a Red Cross representative.
  • They rightly call for an end to his ‘torture’. But isn’t it torture enough to imprison an innocent man for an indeterminate time and keep him from his family, torture for both the prisoner and his family? And isn’t that, too, a “violation of international humanitarian law?”
  • They most likely rationalize their acquiescence to his captivity by finding equivalences — between Gilad Shalit the hostage and Arab prisoners in Israeli jails, and between Israeli authorities and Hamas leaders. Only their enormous contempt for Israel — and the rewards it brings them — makes these absurd comparisons possible.

Israel is a legitimate, democratic nation and Hamas is a terrorist gang whose primary goal is to commit genocide. Sometimes there aren’t any shades of gray. One man’s terrorist may still be a terrorist even if someone finds it profitable to call him a freedom fighter.

These are the same organizations who, funded to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars by the European Union, the New Israel Fund, the Ford Foundation, and private donors (including some in Saudi Arabia), collected the ‘evidence’ used in the dishonest Goldstone Report (for example, see here) to accuse the IDF of war crimes. They are leaders in the campaign to demonize Israel in order to make it harder for her to exercise her right of self-defense.

The “Human Rights” industry is now a big business, and some of its biggest ‘customers’ are those who are dedicated to ending the phenomenon of Jewish self-determination — Zionism — for various reasons. Some are naive, some have fallen under the spell of postmodern left-wing politics, some have a financial interest — and some are the old-fashioned enemies of Israel and the Jewish people.

This has distorted the human rights movement’s focus and disconnected it from the initial idealism that animated its founders (like HRW’s Robert Bernstein). Bernstein said this about HRW and Israel:

Human Rights Watch has lost critical perspective on a conflict in which Israel has been repeatedly attacked by Hamas and Hezbollah, organizations that go after Israeli citizens and use their own people as human shields. These groups are supported by the government of Iran, which has openly declared its intention not just to destroy Israel but to murder Jews everywhere. This incitement to genocide is a violation of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

Leaders of Human Rights Watch know that Hamas and Hezbollah chose to wage war from densely populated areas, deliberately transforming neighborhoods into battlefields. They know that more and better arms are flowing into both Gaza and Lebanon and are poised to strike again. And they know that this militancy continues to deprive Palestinians of any chance for the peaceful and productive life they deserve. Yet Israel, the repeated victim of aggression, faces the brunt of Human Rights Watch’s criticism.

All of these organizations demonstrated this week that they have no special status as apolitical observers interested only in human rights. They are political tools, bought and paid for by Israel’s enemies.

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More dangerous than an Iranian bomb

Friday, June 24th, 2011

Some Jewish students protested that the national anthem, Hatikvah, was not sung at the recent graduation ceremony of the Faculty of Law at Haifa University, as is customary (a Hebrew news item is here).

“Even at kindergarten graduations they sing Hatikvah,” a student said. “We were asked to stand to release balloons, but not to sing the national anthem,” he added.

The University has only said they are investigating the matter, but students suggest that the increased enrollment of Arab students is the reason. Many Arab citizens of Israel find the national anthem, the flag, and indeed the idea that Israel is a “Jewish state” objectionable.

These attitudes are reflected in the statements and actions of Arab members of the Knesset. Some, like Haneen Zouabi, are simply anti-state. In other countries, their actions might result in prosecution for treason. We could call Zouabi an ‘extremist’, but unfortunately her extremism is shared by a majority of Israeli Arabs (most prefer to call themselves ‘Palestinian citizens of Israel’ today):

According to a new survey by Haifa University, nearly two thirds of the Arab citizens of Israel believe Jews are a foreign imprint on the Middle East and are destined to be replaced by Palestinians. A similar number believes that Israel has no right to exist as a Jewish state. The 2010 Arab Jewish Relations Survey, compiled by Professor Sami Smoocha in collaboration with the Jewish-Arab Center at the University of Haifa, presents what its authors describe as a worrying decline in relations between Jews and Arabs in Israel over the past decade…

Among Arabs, 71 percent said they blamed Jews for the hardships suffered by Palestinians during and after the ‘Nakba’ in 1948. The survey also found that the percentage of Arabs taking part in ‘Nakba Day’ commemorations rose from 13 percent in 2003 to 36 percent in 2010. In addition, 38 percent of Arabs polled in the survey said they did not believe that millions of Jews had been victims in the Holocaust.

Arabs constitute about 20% of Israeli citizens. Note that this does not include residents of Judea, Samaria, eastern Jerusalem and the Golan (residents of the latter two had the option to accept Israeli citizenship but most declined).

Advocates for Israeli Arabs often claim that they do not have full civil rights. Although there are some benefits that they do not receive (for example, veterans’ benefits, since most do not serve in the army), they have full rights to vote and elect people like Zouabi to the Knesset, to employment and government-supported education, etc. It’s often pointed out that there is massive tax evasion in the Arab community, as well as mismanagement and corruption by local officials in Arab towns.

The question, however, is not one of civil rights. Even if every bit of ‘discrimination’ were removed from Israeli society — and I hate to use this word, reminiscent as it is of the civil rights movement in America which in no way resembles the situation in Israel — there would still be the ‘problem’ that Israel is a Jewish state with a Jewish flag and national anthem, as well as a Law of Return for Jews and not for Arabs.

There is simply no solution for Palestinian Arab nationalism within a Jewish state. And since nationalist feelings are growing, the conflict will get worse, not better.

There are those who are prepared to give up the idea of a Jewish state in favor of some kind of ‘democratic’ or binational state. There is no such successful state in the Middle East. The only officially multinational state in the region, Lebanon, has been a disaster — in my opinion because of Arab culture and Muslim ideology.

These options are even less practical for Israel, and I believe that their proponents are either disingenuous or incredibly naive. Such a state would be unstable, resulting either in another Arab state or a bloody civil war (or both). Even if it could be viable, it would be a tragedy, signifying the end of Zionism, and probably the end of the Jews as a distinct people.

Israel’s Jews need to face this issue head on. In the long run, this issue is potentially more dangerous to Jewish survival than an Iranian bomb.

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