Saturday, December 12, 2009

Column One: Narcissists and madmen.

 

by Caroline Glick  

Perhaps when the history of our times is written, ours will be called The Era of Narcissistic Catechisms. To understand why this is the case it is enough to consider the fortunes of two green movements.

On the main stage of global affairs this week we have the much touted UN climate change conference in Copenhagen. Standing with 15,000 delegates representing green activism groups and politically correct scientists the world over are international celebrity leaders like Nobel Peace Prize laureates Barack Obama, Al Gore and Desmond Tutu and their fellow celebrities and Oscar and Grammy winners Al Gore, Leonardo Dicaprio, Sting, Cate Blanchett and Daryl Hannah.

These celebrities are wholly committed to the proposition that manmade global warming is the greatest threat to mankind. They are similarly convinced that if the developed countries don't ante up $10 trillion dollars and pass them on to the less-developed countries, we will kill Planet Earth.

And we shouldn't balk at the price tag. As Deutsche Bank's climate change guru Kevin Parker told the New York Times, the cost is nothing when compared to the "cost of inaction." That cost, in his view, entails nothing less than "the extinction of the human race. Period."

Parker's alarmism would probably have a depraved ring to it in all circumstances. But when placed against the backdrop of the hacked emails from the Climate Research Unit at East Anglia University, it sounds like the rabid ravings of a psychopath.

Posted on the Internet two weeks ago, those emails exposed how for over a decade prominent climate scientists have apparently falsified data to advance popular belief in manmade global warming. Among the group's various tactics, they intimidated and misled journalists. They massaged data to conform to their predetermined conclusions. And they sought to block scientists whose research led them to conclude that it is impossible to determine what role if any human activity has had in determining global temperatures from publishing their findings in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

Despite the fraud exposed at the heart of the global warming movement, Western celebrity leaders remain ready to tax their countries into the pre-industrial age in order to mitigate the dangers of global warming. The EU and the US are committed to taking radical action that is liable to derail the global economy by regulating and taxing their most productive sectors out of business in order to contend with a threat that may not exist.

And if the planet is in fact getting hotter, it is far from clear that the radical steps they intend to adopt will have any impact on how hot the world becomes. Even assuming that the problem is real and that the remedies on the table are sound, they will have to be universally implemented to work. And no one has the ability to ensure that will happen. After all, to take just one eminently foreseeable example, the US will not go to war with China or even seriously threaten China - which owns the US debt - to compel Beijing to lower its CO2 emissions. So no matter what happens at Copenhagen, it is clear that all the global warming activists' fervor and radical plans will do nothing to save the planet from the global warming they so fear.

And yet, in spite of the inescapable futility of their plans, these global warming activists remain willing to take steps which the Times acknowledges, "will entail profound shifts in energy production, dislocations in how and where people live, sweeping changes in agriculture and forestry and the creation of complex new markets in global warming pollution credits."

SOME 4,600 KM away from Copenhagen, another green movement took to the streets this week. In Iran tens of thousands of anti-regime protesters from the green movement for democracy again risked their lives to demand freedom.

Writing of the protests in the Wall Street Journal on Thursday, Amir Taheri reported that the protesters' demands are now openly revolutionary. What started as a protest movement against a stolen presidential election on June 12 has morphed into a full-blown movement aimed at overthrowing the regime. Protesters are holding placards calling for "Death to [Supreme Leader Ali] Khamenei," "Freedom Now," "Iranian Republic, not Islamic Republic," and "Abandon Uranium Enrichment, Do Something about the Poor!"

Unlike global warming, there is no doubt that the specter of a nuclear-armed Iran constitutes a grave threat to international peace and security. There is also no doubt that the most effective way to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons is to replace the current genocidal jihadist regime with a peaceful, liberal and democratic government.

As unlikely as it may seem, at the very moment that freedom in Iran has become most urgent requirement for the world as a whole, the Iranian people have taken to the streets to demand it and are willing to pay with their lives to achieve it.

In the face of this miraculous turn of events, the international community has nothing to say. Whereas the West's celebrity icons line up to get their pictures taken next to posters of polar bears, no one stands with the Iranian people.

As he received his Nobel Peace Prize Thursday, Obama did not protest the mullocracy's repression of its people. He did not offer to give his prize to fellow peace prize laureate Shirin Ebadi. The Iranian human rights activist's prize was confiscated by regime goons last month.

No Hollywood directors have announced plans to produce a feature film about the Iranian anti-regime protesters. No college students have marched on Washington or Brussels to demonstrate their solidarity with Iranian university students who are being arrested by the thousands and killed by the hundreds by the regime for their crime of demanding freedom.

ON THE face of it, the international community's willingness to commit economic suicide to solve a problem that is probably not that serious and may not even be a problem on the one hand, and its unwillingness to take even the most symbolic action to help others solve a problem that is both real and urgent, makes no sense.

To understand what possesses the international community - that is, the US and the EU - to act in this way it is worth considering the EU's moves regarding Israel and the Palestinians this past week.

Apropos of nothing, this week the EU felt it necessary to pass a resolution accepting the Palestinian positions on every single issue in their conflict with Israel. As far as Europe is concerned, Israel must withdraw from all of Judea, Samaria and large swathes of Jerusalem, and turn a half a million Israelis into internal refugees. Israel must open its borders with Hamas-ruled Gaza. And it must accept the legitimacy of a Hamas-Fatah government. Aside from that, Israel should agree immediately to hold negotiations with the Palestinians in which it will agree to all these positions.

The EU knows that there is an Israeli consensus that opposes these positions. It also knows that successive Israeli prime ministers have ignored that consensus. Israeli leaders handed over Gaza and the Palestinians responded by electing Hamas to lead them. They offered up Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria in 2000 and received a five year terror war. They offered up Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria again in 2008 and got the missile war from Gaza.

The Europeans know that their positions will not bring peace. If anything, their positions will bring further bloodshed by convincing the Palestinians that the Europeans have their backs. And they know it.

So what possessed them to act as they have?

The truth is that the EU resolution was not a policy statement. It was a catechism. The Europeans felt the need to declare their fealty to the dogma that says Israel is responsible for its conflict with the Arabs. They don't have any intention of resolving anything. All they wished to do was make a public declaration of faith.

Historian Bat Ye'or has dubbed this quasi-religious creed Palestinianism. Palestinianism is a convenient creed for Europe. If the source of all the radicalism and terror in the Islamic world is Israel; if the Islamic fanaticism that greets Europeans on the streets of their cities is simply a function of Israel's size and bad attitude, then there is no reason for anyone in Malmo or Amsterdam or London to consider that they might have to stop appeasing Islamists.

In a similar manner, the beauty of global warming hysteria is that it is a Western affair. No one expects non-Westerners to do anything. Africans don't have to quit hunting elephants. Arabs don't have to quit drilling oil. Only Americans and Europeans have to change their way of life. For Western narcissists who believe that the world revolves around them, global warming is a comforting creed.

Just as Palestinianism, as a quasi-religion, has its original sin - the creation of Israel - and its heretics - the neoconservative warmongers who point out the inconvenient reality of Arab intransigence and fanaticism - so climate change activists have their own pseudo-religious practices and rituals. Their original sin is industrialization. Their fiery prophets threaten them with hellfire and eternal damnation if they do not repent and change their ways. And they have their mortal foes. They are the heretics, the non-believers, the doubters who point out that over the past decade global temperatures have declined and that scientific facts are not determined by majority vote.

This returns us to the green protesters in Iran. These courageous freedom fighters have the unfortunate distinction of fighting a regime the Western narcissists would like to like. After all, the mullahs share their hatred for Israel and the West.

Much to the narcissists' dismay, the Iranian green activists are forcing them to recognize the inconvenient truth that not all bad things in the world are the product of Israeli aggression or Western imperialism or the industrial revolution. Indeed if anyone were to notice them, the Iranian democrats would provoke a crisis of faith among the Western narcissists.

So they are ignored. Western celebrity leaders and their followers say nothing as Iranian students demanding freedom are shot and killed on YouTube. They do nothing but posture as the regime builds atomic bombs and tests medium range ballistic missiles. They do nothing but preen as the regime transfers 500kg warheads and guided missiles to Hizbullah and deploys terror agents throughout Europe and Latin America.

Many have claimed that jihadists like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who seek to destroy Western civilization in the name of Islam are madmen. So what do we call Westerners who won't lift a finger against him but voluntarily embrace the destruction of their own way of life to avert what may very well be an imaginary crisis?

Perhaps this is not the Era of the Narcissistic Catechism. Perhaps this is simply the Era of Madness.

 

Caroline Glick  

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

Friday, December 11, 2009

Sulaiman Meets Obama as Washington's Lebanese Allies Face Crisis at Home.

 

by David Schenker

On December 14, Lebanese president Michel Sulaiman is scheduled to meet with President Barack Obama at the White House. It is widely anticipated that during his visit, Sulaiman will request administration support for an increase in U.S. military assistance.
Despite concerns that U.S. materiel will leak to Hizballah, Washington will likely agree to augment this funding, given the Lebanese Armed Force's excellent security record with equipment of U.S. origin. The question of U.S. military funding for Lebanon highlights recent developments in Lebanese politics that point to the resurgence of Hizballah -- and its Syrian and Iranian backers -- in Beirut. Although the pro-West March 14 coalition scored an impressive electoral victory in June, six months later, the government that has emerged constitutes a setback for Washington and its Lebanese allies. The scope of the setback -- for both the coalition and the United States -- was recently summarized by Syrian Ambassador to the United States Imad Mustafa, who said, "We love it!... It is exactly the sort of government we think should rule Lebanon."

A New Government

Following the victory in June, prime minister designate Saad Hariri began the arduous process of cabinet negotiations with the Syrian- and Iranian-backed Hizballah-led opposition. Not only was the opposition holding out for "blocking third" veto power in the cabinet, Hizballah's Christian ally, Michel Aoun's Free Patriotic Movement, was demanding the reappointment of Aoun's nephew and political heir apparent Gibran Bassil -- who lost his seat in parliament -- to his previous post as minister of telecommunications. These demands were so unpalatable that at one point Hariri resigned.

Although Hariri was reappointed, facing pressure from his Saudi backers and the specter of yet another round of Hizballah violence -- as in the May 2008 invasion of Beirut by Shiite militia -- he ultimately acceded to nearly all the opposition's demands. Hariri's March 14 coalition was apportioned fifteen cabinet seats, the opposition ten, and the allegedly "neutral" president, Michel Sulaiman, five. While on paper this allocation did not provide Hizballah the eleven seats required for a blocking third, it is widely assumed that the Shiite militia can count on at least one of the president's ministers to secure the veto power. While Bassil did not ultimately get the telecommunications post, he was consigned the energy and water resources ministry.

Hariri was forced to make these concessions due to, at least in part, the weakening of his coalition. Shortly after the elections, Druze leader and March 14 coalition stalwart Walid Jumblat -- perhaps sensing the shifting political sands -- distanced himself from the coalition. It also appears that Riyadh, hoping to patch up relations with Damascus in an effort to decouple the state from Iran, pushed Hariri to make a deal. As part of the Saudi arrangement, Hariri will soon travel to Syria to meet President Bashar al-Asad, the man widely believed to have ordered the murder of Hariri's father, Rafiq, the former Lebanese premier.

Ministerial Statement

In early October, Saudi's King Abdullah traveled to Damascus, and less than a month later, a cabinet was announced in Beirut. For the past month, the March 14 coalition and the opposition have been wrangling over the ministerial statement's content. Published on December 2, the statement was for the most part uncontroversial by Lebanese standards. The sole point of contention has been Article 6, referred to as the "resistance clause," which affirms the "right of Lebanon's people, its army, and its resistance [i.e., Hizballah]" to "defend Lebanon by confronting any [foreign] aggression" and to "liberate Sheba Farms, Kfar Shouba, and the Lebanese portion of Ghajar." In addition to being an apparent violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which stipulates the "disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon," several Christian March 14 parliament members consider the clause a violation of the constitution.

Hizballah Resurgent

The new government of Lebanon represents a reversal of fortune for the Shiite militia. Since its high point in 2006, the "resistance" has lost much of its luster. In September 2009 Hizballah's chief local financier was arrested for running a Ponzi scheme that cost the party a reported $680 million; a few months earlier, a report in Der Spiegel implicated the group in the Hariri assassination; and in May 2008 the organization turned its weapons on the people of Lebanon when it invaded Beirut, undermining the organization's "resistance" credentials. In addition to these difficulties and the June election defeat, Hizballah cells have been arrested in Azerbaijan (2008) and Egypt (2007), and fighters reportedly killed while backing Houthi rebels in Yemen (2009).

Notwithstanding these setbacks, in November 2009 Hassan Nasrallah -- backed with a fatwa from Iran's Supreme Leader -- was reelected, despite the prescribed two-term limit, to his sixth three-year term as secretary-general of Hizballah. At the same time, the organization adopted a "new" political manifesto updating its 1985 program. While much of the document reflects longstanding Hizballah positions, a few points deserve mention:

  • The United States is still an enemy. The 1985 document said that Hizballah was "moving in the direction of fighting the roots of vice and the first root of vice is America." The new manifesto continues the language of "confrontation" with the U.S., noting that "American arrogance leaves our nation ... with no choice but the choice of resistance."
  • Israel must still be destroyed. As with the 1985 platform -- and in opposition to the government's ministerial statement -- the new document rejects the option of a negotiated settlement with the "Zionist entity." Notably, while Jerusalem and the al-Aqsa Mosque were not mentioned in the 1985 document, in the new manifesto their liberation is characterized as a "religious duty and human and ethical responsibility."
  • Emphasis is on "consensual democracy." Hizballah calls for the end of the sectarian political system in Beirut, but so long as the system is in place, according to the manifesto, "consensual democracy remains the fundamental basis of governance" in Lebanon. This formulation amounts to the militia's demand for permanent veto power in the cabinet.

Conclusion

In the six months since the March 14 coalition's election victory, the momentum in Lebanese politics has once again shifted in favor of Hizballah and its allies; the pendulum promises to swing even further in this direction following Hariri and Jumblat's visit to Damascus. As Hizballah consolidates its political gains, it is reportedly also improving its military capabilities on the ground. Notwithstanding Israel's November interception of the Francop -- the ship that attempted to transfer some 500 tons of weapons to Hizballah via Syria -- it is widely believed that the militia has attained advanced Russian SA-24 Igla-S antiaircraft weapons. Israel considers these MANPADS (man portable air defense systems) to be a "gamechanger."

Four years after the Cedar Revolution, it is increasingly apparent that Syria and its allies have regained the upper hand in Lebanon. To date, the Obama administration appears to have done little to stem the tide, but given the stakes, Washington should act quickly to reverse the trend.

First, Washington and Saudi Arabia need to be on the same page: improved relations with Damascus -- at the expense of Beirut -- will not insulate Riyadh from the Iranian threat and is counterproductive. The administration should also attempt to reinvigorate UN discussion of Security Council Resolution 1701, to draw attention to the continued destabilizing movement of weapons to the Shiite militia. At the same time, Washington should highlight with its European allies -- in particular Great Britain -- the November 2009 indictment of Hizballah political committee member Hassan Hodroj on charges of purchasing weapons on behalf of the militia. Hodroj's arrest should put an end, once and for all, to the fiction that Hizballah is divided into political and military "wings."

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Washington should make it clear to Damascus that in addition to undermining stability in Iraq, continued Syrian meddling in Lebanon -- and Syria's ongoing support for Hizballah -- will prevent a U.S.-Syrian rapprochement. Today, Syria is openly advocating a "Middle East of resistance," even as Special Envoy for Middle East Peace George Mitchell is saying that "if Syria truly wants a better relationship with the U.S....it must end its support for terrorist groups." This past August, a "high-ranking U.S. official" -- believed by many to have been Acting Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman -- told the Lebanese daily al-Nahar that "the Syrians are mistaken if they think that their relations with us will not be affected as a result of what they are doing in Lebanon." Given the latest developments in Lebanon, it's about time that Washington imposed a price.

 

David Schenker is the Aufzien fellow and director of the Program on Arab Politics at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Swiss Minarets and European Islam

 

by Daniel Pipes

What importance has the recent Swiss referendum to ban the building of minarets (spires next to mosques from which the call to prayer is issued)?

Some may see the 57.5 to 42.5 percent decision endorsing a constitutional amendment as nearly meaningless. The political establishment being overwhelmingly opposed to the amendment, the ban will probably never go into effect. Only 53.4 percent of the electorate voted, so a mere 31 percent of the whole population endorses the ban. The ban does not address Islamist aspirations, much less Muslim terrorism. It has no impact on the practice of Islam. It prevents neither the building of new mosques nor requires that Switzerland's four existing minarets be demolished.

It's also possible to dismiss the vote as the quirky result of Switzerland's unique direct democracy, a tradition that goes back to 1291 and exists nowhere else in Europe. Josef Joffe, the distinguished German analyst, sees the vote as a populist backlash against the series of humiliations the Swiss have endured in recent years culminating in the seizure of two businessmen in Libya and the Swiss president's mortifying apology to win their release.

However, I see the referendum as consequential, and well so beyond Swiss borders.

First, it raises delicate issues of reciprocity in Muslim-Christian relations. A few examples: When Our Lady of the Rosary, Qatar's first-ever church opened in 2008, it did so minus cross, bell, dome, steeple, or signboard. Rosary's priest, Father Tom Veneracion, explained their absence: "The idea is to be discreet because we don't want to inflame any sensitivities." And when the Christians of a town in Upper Egypt, Nazlet al-Badraman, finally after four years of "laborious negotiation, pleading, and grappling with the authorities," won permission in October to restore a tottering tower at the Mar-Girgis Church, a mob of about 200 Muslims attacked them, throwing stones and shouting Islamic and sectarian slogans. The situation for Copts is so bad, they have reverted to building secret churches.

Why, the Catholic Church and others are asking, should Christian suffer such indignities while Muslims enjoy full rights in historically Christian countries? The Swiss vote fits into this new spirit. Islamists, of course, reject this premise of equality; Iranian foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki warned his Swiss counterpart of unspecified "consequences" of what he called anti-Islamic acts, implicitly threatening to make the minaret ban an international issue comparable to the Danish cartoon fracas of 2006.

Second, Europe stands at a crossroads with respect to its Muslim population. Of the three main future prospects – everyone getting along, Muslims dominating, or Muslims rejected – the first is highly improbable but the second and third seem equally possible. In this context, the Swiss vote represents a potentially important legitimation of anti-Islamic views. The vote inspired support across Europe, as signaled by online polling sponsored by the mainstream media and by statements from leading figures. Here follows a small sampling:

·         France: 49,000 readers at Le Figaro, by a 73-27 percent margin, would vote to ban new minarets in their country. 24,000 readers at L'Express agreed by an 86-12 percent margin, with 2 percent undecided. A leading columnist, Ivan Rioufol of Le Figaro, wrote an article titled "Homage to the Resistance of the Swiss People." President Nicolas Sarkozy was quoted as saying that "the people, in Switzerland as in France, don't want their country to change, that it be denatured. They want to keep their identity."

·         Germany: 29.000 readers at Der Spiegel voted 76-21 percent, with 2 percent undecided, to ban minarets in Germany. 17,000 readers of Die Welt voted 82-16 in favor of "Yes, I feel cramped by minarets" over "No, freedom of religion is constrained."

·         Spain: 14,000 readers of 20 Minutos voted 93-6 percent in favor of the statement "Good, we must curb Islamization's growing presence" and against "Bad, it is an obstacle to the integration of immigrants." 35,000 readers of El Mondo replied 80-20 percent that they support a Swiss-like banning of minarets.

Although not scientific, the lop-sidedness of these (and other) polls, ranging from 73 to 93 percent majorities endorsing the Swiss referendum, signal that Swiss voters represent growing anti-Islamic sentiments throughout Europe. The new amendment also validates and potentially encourages resistance to Islamization throughout the continent.

For these reasons, the Swiss vote represents a possible turning point for European Islam.

Dec. 9, 2009 update: A scientific poll of Belgians sponsored by Le Soir weekly and carried out by iVOX finds that 59.3 percent of the Belgian population favors a Swiss-like prohibition on building new minarets and 56.7 percent want to ban the building of mosques. The poll of 1,050 persons was taken on December 3 through 5 and has an accuracy of within 3 percent.

 

Daniel Pipes is director of the Middle East Forum and Taube distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University.

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

 

For Hezbollah, Lebanon is an afterthought.

by  Tony Badran,

Two things were unsurprising about Hezbollah's political document, unveiled on November 30 by the party's secretary general, Hassan Nasrallah, namely its content and characterization in the media. The document reaffirmed the party's determination to defend its parallel state while simultaneously forcing its priorities on Lebanon's state and society, without abandoning its ideological principles or strategic objectives.
 
A closer look at the document shows that what has been hailed as a "new" platform is in fact a point-by-point expansion of the principles laid out in Hezbollah's founding document, the so-called Open Letter, of 1985. And what is not explicitly laid out in the document, Nasrallah clarified in his press
conference, as did other Hezbollah officials in media outlets.
 
First and foremost, the party remains as determined as ever to safeguard its autonomous armed status in an open-ended way, reaffirming the "duality" between itself on the one hand and the rest of Lebanon on the other. In fact, as Nasrallah himself remarked to the assembled journalists, the "Resistance" (by which he meant Hezbollah's autonomous armed status), "still holds first place." The document's section on Lebanon outlines Hezbollah's conception of the country as being directly intertwined, both thematically and structurally, with the Resistance. In other words, there is no Lebanon without the Resistance. As Nasrallah's deputy, Naim Qassem,
put it in 2007, Hezbollah's objective is to integrate the rest of society into the Resistance, not vice versa, as some are claiming
 
A key statement in that regard was the section on the so-called "defense strategy" for Lebanon. Here Nasrallah reiterated Hezbollah's long-held position on a "twinning" of a "popular resistance" with a "nationalist army," in a "complementary" security regime. In that perilous scheme, the Lebanese state and its official decision-making institutions and processes are completely omitted. Nor was it surprising that the document failed to mention United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701 as well as the Taif Accord – two key documents today affecting the Lebanese polity.
 
Nasrallah's aims more closely resemble what he imposed through the disastrous April Understanding of 1996. In a book he authored in 2002 titled "Hezbollah: The Program, the Experience, the Future", Naim Qassem described the understanding as having been "tailored to the demands of the Resistance," especially in how it bestowed "legitimacy on the Resistance." The April Understanding, in Hezbollah's eyes, enshrined in writing its operational autonomy vis-à-vis an emasculated Lebanese state, under the direct supervision of Iran and Syria.
 
Hezbollah and its regional patrons have been consistently striving to empty Resolution 1701 of its substance in order to return to the framework of the April Understanding. It is safe to assume that this is the reading that Nasrallah wants to impose on the new Lebanese government as well. Not only did he time the unveiling of Hezbollah's document to coincide with the agreement on the ministerial statement, the terminology he used was intended to codify Hezbollah's interpretation of that statement. Hence Nasrallah's repetition of the formula mentioning "the Resistance, a loyal people, and the nationalist army" echoing that of the cabinet statement that Hezbollah imposed by force after the 2008 Doha Accord.
 
Meanwhile, some of those who
commented on the party document argued that it somehow represented a departure from the old platform, instead highlighting Hezbollah's "evolution" toward "Lebanonization." This interpretation displays a woeful misunderstanding of what Hezbollah is about. One tenet of this approach is that the party, as Augustus Richard Norton once put it, is "preparing for life after the Resistance."
 
Norton's theory is wrong. As the new document shows, Hezbollah's conceptual universe is tied in with the idea of "resistance," elevated into a comprehensive worldview, or what Qassem once referred to as "the project of [Jihad in] the Path of God." Not coincidentally, the two Quranic verses that lead Hezbollah's document are about Jihad in the Path of God.
 
Those who underline that Hezbollah is becoming more of a Lebanese party also tend to play down its global reach and organic ties to Iran. Instead, those advocating this view play up the party's involvement in Lebanon-related issues. However, this has repeatedly been undermined by events, not least the group's cells in Azerbaijan, Egypt, Iraq and South America; and now by the text of Hezbollah's latest document.
 
The document repeats Hezbollah's intent to eradicate Israel, adding that the liberation of Jerusalem and all of Palestine is a religious duty. Support for the Palestinians, the document adds, is Iranian policy under the leadership of Iran's supreme guide, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the "Ruling Jurisconsult". In this way, Nasrallah reaffirmed Hezbollah's subservience to Khamenei, stressing that this attitude was an "ideological, doctrinal and religious position, and not a political one subject to revision."
 
Through this trans-national ideological vision released in sync with the launching of the new cabinet, Hezbollah openly reaffirmed that in its conceptual universe, Lebanon was but an operational base in a broader war that it will force on the Lebanese whether they liked it or not. The party official and parliamentarian Nawwaf Moussawi expressed this plainly in an interview with Al-Jazeera, noting that Hezbollah was not bound by Lebanon's geographic boundaries: "[W]e crossed the border [in 2006] … out of our belief that the battle is one and the same."

So much for Hezbollah's "Lebanonization."

Tony Badran is a research fellow with the Center for Terrorism Research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

Europe has forsaken Israel.

by Isi Leibler

It was ironic but no surprise to learn that immediately after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's settlement freeze, the response of the Swedish head of the European Union was to preempt negotiations with the Palestinians and make further harsh demands upon the Israelis.

This brought to mind a dramatic verbal exchange I encountered as a participant in the Europe Israel Dialogue which took place recently in Jerusalem under the auspices of Lord Weidenfeld.

I had disagreed with those who were arguing that we should seek support from the Europeans and rely less on the US. I said that notwithstanding the problems Israel faces with the Obama administration, our dependency on support from a superpower rested with the US and that the Europeans had proven to be untrustworthy allies and repeatedly betrayed us.

I also noted that in contrast to the American people who overwhelmingly support Israel, opinion polls taken in Europe confirm that the prevailing consensus perceives Israel as a rogue state posing a greater threat to world peace and stability than even Iran or North Korea. I also related to the craven European appeasement of the Arabs and their willingness to sacrifice Israel on the altar of expediency.

My views were not well received by the predominantly liberal gathering, many of whom shared the illusion that if only Israel were to employ better PR, the enlightened Western traditions which we purportedly share with Europe would somehow enable us to overcome all differences.

TO MY astonishment, one of the leading participants, Dr. Mathias Dopfner, the highly charismatic chief executive of the powerful German Axel Springer Company, entered the discussion and not only endorsed my views, but passionately stated that I had in fact understated the depth of hostility against Israel radiating from Europe. He provided a chilling evaluation of the situation and warned that even Germany, now still bound to Israel because of its special relationship, would in all likelihood also distance itself from us in the future. It was extraordinary hearing a prominent German speaking in such frank terms and warning Israel not to rely on Europe.

Subsequently, I read Robin Shepherd's fascinating new book A State Beyond the Pale: Europe's Problem with Israel, an in-depth analysis of Europe's relationship with Israel. The book makes painful reading.

Shepherd, who is not Jewish, was formerly a senior executive of Chatham House, the Royal Institute for International Affairs, heading its European desk. He was unceremoniously dumped when he wrote an article in The Times favorable to Israel. Today he is the director of international affairs at the Henry Jackson Society and among other pursuits, publishes a daily blog dealing with the double standards employed against Israel in the United Kingdom.

The basic thesis of Shepherd's book is that without discounting the appalling inroads of the new anti-Semitism and the impact of Islamic extremism, the real source of the problem in Europe rests with the indigenous opinion makers who have become profoundly tired and discontented. He observes that many of the elites had absorbed ideological strains from the far left, including nihilism, pacifism, colonial guilt, moral relativism and an antipathy to nationalism. This eroded their will to defend their values and fight for the maintenance of their civilization and culminated with an unholy alliance between the radical left and Islamism.

People who had spent their lives campaigning for the rights of women, homosexuals, ethnic minorities and pacifism are now making common cause with some of the most violent religious bigots on the planet. This has also encouraged European elites to labor under the false illusion that they can coexist with radical jihadist elements by appeasing them.

Shepherd also describes how the Jews, who in the immediate post-war era still enjoyed warm relations with liberals and the left, have now been rejected by them. He shows in brutal terms, how these groups continue expressing concern and commemorate dead Jews, but are less inclined to support the living, especially when it comes to those residing in their Jewish homeland where, to use the lexicon of Engels, they became transformed into a "reactionary people."

Shepherd says that "something has clearly gone wrong when it has becomes increasingly difficult to tell the difference between some of the language, tone and content of mainstream commentary on Israel in Europe from the daily polemic against the Jewish state in the Arab and Muslim world."

He observes that the vilest depictions of Israel such as "shitty," "Nazi," "apartheid" and "war criminal" have been absorbed into the everyday chatter of elite groups.

He concludes that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is effectively a litmus test of Europe's failure to survive in the face of Islamic extremism. He says that "the anti-Israeli agenda in Europe is a stain on its integrity... There are hundreds of reasons for Europe to clean up its act on Israel. Self-preservation and self-respect are just two of them".

This superbly written and meticulously documented book is possibly the best study published analyzing the obsessive and virulent bias which Europe radiates toward Israel. It should be read by scholars and laymen alike, especially those engaged in Middle East affairs.

ANOTHER RECENT book release which complements that of Shepherd is Christopher Caldwell"s Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam and the West. Caldwell, a highly regarded London Financial Times journalist, deals with Islam in Europe and depicts how uncontrolled Muslim immigration has resulted in catastrophic unintended consequences. He highlights the abject failure of multiculturalism, noting that second-generation Muslim immigrants have become less integrated than the first and that the third generation is even worse.

The demographic future he projects is very gloomy. Native Europeans have insufficient children to maintain replacement, while Muslim immigrants continue having large families. He demonstrates how, unless current trends are reversed, within half a century Islam will be the majority religion of young people in many European countries.

He describes how a combination of complacency and a refusal to face up to reality, combined with moral relativism, has encouraged European governments to stand by while agents of radical Islam made headway in many communities and are now in the process of displacing Western civilization and transforming Europe.

Caldwell is emphatic that as a determined adversary culture, Islam has the potential of conquering Europe unless European governments display the courage to demand that migrants accept the secularism, tolerance and equality of Western culture.

In this context, one would expect Europeans to be concentrating their energies on devising strategies to retain their heritage and way of life, rather than appeasing the extremist Islamic groups which are undermining their Judeo-Christian civilization.

Were they to move in this direction there is every probability that the European penchant to demonize and try to delegitimize Israel might also be directed toward more constructive objectives.

 

Isi Leibler
Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

The tuxedoed pirate.

 

by Farid Ghadry

 

Assad's claim of legitimacy is brute force, used to hijack millions of Syrians

 

There are hundreds of reasons why democratic Israel is eager to have peace with its neighbors. All packaged for one purpose: To provide security for Israelis, the majority of which have reached a new trigger point in their struggle for normalcy, far more lethal than the one Israel reached in its war against Hezbollah and Hamas.

 

Concurrently, there are hundreds of reasons for the authoritarian Assad regime in Syria to freeze and cultivate the status quo with its neighbors. All packaged, as well, for the purpose of maintaining instability in the region that ultimately benefits Syria's failed experiment of its Ba'ath ideology. Passing the hat, through extortion, has so far worked well for the Assads and their control of Syria.

Unlike the sincerity of Anwar Sadat of Egypt backed by a dynastic history, or the pragmatism of King Hussein of Jordan backed by direct lineage to the Prophet Mohammad, Assad's claim of legitimacy is his own brute force. As such, Israel will always tango alone when it comes to peace with the fabricated Assads because their seed, lacking the depth of Sadat and King Hussein, is identified more with pirates than Kings and Pharohs.

 

But the reality in dealing with the Syrian regime differs from the perception the world has of the pirates in Damascus. In summation, most kings and pharohs pay attention to the needs of their own people and build for their prosperity, but all pirates pilfer and ravage to redress their own inferiority.

 

That, of course, does not mean that noble countries like France or Turkey should not play their part in the promotion of peace between Syria and Israel. But in doing so, both countries must be aware of the risks involved. Israel may come to the table ready for peace but Assad will come to the table searching for an advantage to continue the journey of his pirate-like DNA. Peace is neither in his heart nor on his mind.

 

Why should he abandon the policy of terror that will diminish the capabilities he, with the other pirates in Tehran, have been constructing so carefully since the 70s to give them commanding height of the region?

 

Useful idiots 

But unlike other pirates, Assad wears a tuxedo. Most who visit with him are enchanted to hear him speak of peace so civilly and are taken to task to help this "British educated" pirate come ashore and live amongst the civilized. Little do they know of his "resistance" to such endeavors because once ashore, Assad knows he can no longer pilfer and ravage. The EU Association Agreement is the closest thing to a bridge between the ship's pirate and the shore, yet Assad refused to sign it for reasons that remain mysterious to many in the EU and elsewhere.

 

What is resistance anyway? Is Assad resisting the West's culture when his wife Asma shops on Avenue Montaigne in Paris? Or is he resisting the wealth he will have access to by partnering with the capitalists in the West?

 

The truth is that Assad is resisting the culture of consensus built around cooperation and co-existence. Nothing will threaten his minority regime more than to become a full and participating member in the club of the international community because his dubious legitimacy, backed at home by emergency laws, will be questioned.

 

But to market the violence and terror of "resistance" as also a peace movement, Assad demonizes his enemies, especially Israel, the easiest of targets. To the millions of hijacked Syrians, kept largely at sea devoid of all the comforts of life and nuances of his piracy, his long tales and deceptive statements are taken unquestionably and at face-value.

 

Because he is backed by an ignorant population, he can effectively threaten all surrounding countries, which diverts the attention of his enemies to the glaring leaks in his ship no one seems either interested in taking advantage of or at least re-direct his attention to protecting his ship first.

 

In one of my visits to a Middle East country, I had dinner with a prime minister of a major European country. Out of the many angles we discussed that night, one seemed to stand out above all others. The PM argued that corrupt Middle East dictators are useful idiots the EU and the US are eager to protect. Honest Middle East democrats, he added, were the last lot the West desires in positions of power. Maybe this explains why Assad, the most violent and corrupt of pirates, seems to be an A-List guest with Turkey, France and the US today.

 

Farid Ghadry

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Obama Aims to Impose a Solution on Israel.

 

by Ted Belman

 

President Obama has surrounded himself with a host of vehemently anti-Israel advisers including Lee Hamilton, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Samantha Power, Susan Rice, and Gen. Jones, many of whom advocate imposing a solution on Israel.

So it was no surprise that Obama started his term of office by attacking Israel, America's best and most steadfast ally, and demanding a complete settlement-freeze east of the green line, including Jerusalem. He went so far as to repudiate the U.S. commitment set out in the Bush 2004 letter to then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Elliot Abrams and others involved in the negotiations that led to Bush's letter testified otherwise.

 

In January 2009, before Obama had gotten his act together, Haaretz reported:



MITCHELL TOLD ISRAELI OFFICIALS THAT THE NEW ADMINISTRATION WAS COMMITTED TO ISRAEL'S SECURITY, TO THE ROAD MAP, AND TO THE 2004 LETTER BY PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH STATING Palestinian refugees would not return to Israel and the border between Israel and the Palestinian Authority would take into consideration facts on the ground, meaning large settlement blocs would remain in Israeli hands. 

 

Within a few months, that commitment was history.

 

Prime Minister Netanyahu, who had campaigned on the rejection of the two-state solution and on continued settlement growth, attempted to deflect or resist the pressure. One can only imagine the Tools of Persuasion that Netanyahu was subjected to. Finally, on June 12, 2009, Netanyahu made a major speech at the Begin Centre in which he shocked Israelis by agreeing to a two-state solution.



WE DO NOT WANT TO RULE OVER THEM, WE DO NOT WANT TO GOVERN THEIR LIVES, WE DO NOT WANT TO IMPOSE EITHER OUR FLAG OR OUR CULTURE ON THEM. In my vision of peace, in this small land of ours, two peoples live freely, side-by-side, in amity and mutual respect.  EACH WILL HAVE ITS OWN FLAG, ITS OWN NATIONAL ANTHEM, ITS OWN GOVERNMENT.  NEITHER WILL THREATEN THE SECURITY OR SURVIVAL OF THE OTHER.

 

Never mind that Netanyahu had only limited sovereignty in mind.

 

He went on to demand as a precondition that "Palestinians must clearly and unambiguously recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people" and that a Palestinian state be demilitarized, "with ironclad security provisions for Israel."

 

With respect to the contentious issue of settlement construction, Netanyahu affirmed that there would be no "building new settlements or of expropriating additional land for existing settlements."  But he reserved the right to "natural growth" within existing settlements.

 

As for Jerusalem and Palestinian refugees, he declared: "Jerusalem must remain the united capital of Israel with continued religious freedom for all faiths." And he totally rejected the return of refugees to Israel.

 

At the time, these concessions were either warmly received or hotly debated. Many complained that Netanyahu had caved to pressure without procuring anything in return. After all, this was not the platform that he had campaigned on.

 

A month later, Obama met with Jewish leaders to reassure them, and by all accounts the meeting went well. But shortly thereafter, some Jewish leaders demanded that Obama make demands also on Arab countries. Obama publicly took up the challenge during the summer, thereby admitting that Israel should get something in return. He was soundly rebuffed.

 

Undaunted, Obama then focused on getting PNA President Mahmoud Abbas to accept what Netanyahu had offered in his BESA speech when they met in September at the United Nations. Abbas refused to go along. Obama crapped out.

 

So it then came as a surprise that on November 26, 2009, Netanyahu announced a unilateral ten-month freeze of settlement construction, except for the 3,500 units already announced and natural growth. But he emphasized that the freeze did not apply to Jerusalem. In fact, a few days earlier, a new project of eight hundred units was announced for the Jerusalem suburb of Gilo. Although Obama complained about it, he probably agreed to it to help Netanyahu win over his right wing.

 

The right in Israel was incensed -- first by the acknowledgment of the two-state solution, and now by the freeze, all with nothing offered in return.

 

On the heels of Netanyahu's speech, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made the following statement:



TODAY'S ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE GOVERNMENT OF ISRAEL HELPS MOVE FORWARD TOWARD RESOLVING THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN CONFLICT. WE BELIEVE THAT THROUGH GOOD-FAITH NEGOTIATIONS THE PARTIES CAN MUTUALLY AGREE ON AN OUTCOME WHICH ENDS THE CONFLICT AND RECONCILES THE PALESTINIAN GOAL OF AN INDEPENDENT AND VIABLE STATE BASED ON THE 1967 LINES, WITH AGREED SWAPS, AND THE ISRAELI GOAL OF A JEWISH STATE WITH SECURE AND RECOGNIZED BORDERS THAT REFLECT SUBSEQUENT DEVELOPMENTS AND MEET ISRAELI SECURITY REQUIREMENTS.

 

This is little different from Bush's wording:



IN LIGHT OF NEW REALITIES ON THE GROUND, INCLUDING ALREADY EXISTING MAJOR ISRAELI POPULATIONS CENTERS, IT IS UNREALISTIC TO EXPECT THAT THE OUTCOME OF FINAL STATUS NEGOTIATIONS WILL BE A FULL AND COMPLETE RETURN TO THE ARMISTICE LINES OF 1949, AND ALL PREVIOUS EFFORTS TO NEGOTIATE A TWO-STATE SOLUTION HAVE REACHED THE SAME CONCLUSION. IT IS REALISTIC TO EXPECT THAT ANY FINAL STATUS AGREEMENT WILL ONLY BE ACHIEVED ON THE BASIS OF MUTUALLY AGREED CHANGES THAT REFLECT THESE REALITIES. 

 

Clinton referred to these realities as "subsequent developments."

 

Thus the borders probably will be moved east of these blocks, thereby limiting the number of Jews who have to be uprooted to about 50,000, give or take 20,000 depending on negotiations.

 

So why did Obama repudiate the Bush letter which his man Sen. Mitchell had two months earlier endorsed in his name?

 

The Obama administration has orchestrated two, and possibly three, major departures from the Bush letter. Bush had written that "Israel must have secure and recognized borders ... in accordance with UNSC Resolutions 242 and 338," leaving open the possibility that Resolution 242 did not require retreat from all territories. Clinton made no mention of 242 and said the borders must be "based on the 1967 lines." This suggests that all the land is to be ceded, a process that would be facilitated by swaps mutually agreed upon.

 

Whereas Bush had written "and the settling of Palestinian refugees there [Palestine], rather than in Israel," Clinton was silent. Is this also a departure? I think so. Obama is clearly trying to stay as close to the Saudi plan as he can. It requires the settlement of the refugee issue pursuant to UNGA Resolution 194.

 

In the grand scheme of things, these differences are of little importance. Why take the heat for so little profit, especially when Bush had said doing otherwise was "unrealistic"?

 

Perhaps there is another reason.

 

Bush had committed in said letter that "the United States will do its utmost to prevent any attempt by anyone to impose any other plan." By challenging the whole letter in the first instance and endorsing most of it subsequently (save for this commitment), Obama has succeeded in ridding himself of the commitment. Is Obama thereby reserving the right to impose a plan, as many in his administration recommend? 

 

In case you haven't noticed, neither Obama nor his administration refer to the Roadmap. This is because the Roadmap precludes an imposed solution.

 

It would appear that the Obama administration has no confidence in the achievement of a negotiated solution. Most pundits and politicians believe likewise, including Netanyahu.

 

The issues are too intractable, in part because the Arabs -- and more specifically the "Palestinians" -- are dedicated to the destruction of Israel. They haven't compromised in ninety years. Why start now?

 

Abbas continues to reject negotiations. He prefers an imposed solution, too.

 

This standoff may lead to the disintegration of the PA, which would invite unilateral moves by Israel, the U.S., or Hamas.

 

Will Obama push for a bi-national state or allow Israel to annex Judea and Samaria? Will he attempt to impose a solution? The New York Times, in a lead editorial, favored Obama: "Advancing his own final-status plan for a two-state solution is one high-risk way forward that we think is worth the gamble. "

 

Meanwhile, Obama has less than six months to decide to what extent he will cooperate with Israel in bombing Iran.


Ted Belma

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

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