Saturday, July 17, 2010

New UN committee members and UN staffer have anti-Israel connections.

 

by Anne Bayefsky

 

New UN committee members and UN staffer have anti-Israel connections.

 

Among the multitude of attacks on Israel that the United Nations has sponsored over the decades, last year’s Goldstone report on the 2009 Gaza war stands out for its dangerous distortions of fact and law.  Now the UN Human Rights Council has sponsored a second-team of investigators to press forward with the report’s implementation.  Just as with round one, the United Nations has guaranteed the result of round two by selecting individuals whose independence is compromised from the start.        

 

This second rendition of Goldstone was crafted by a March 2010 resolution of the Human Rights Council. That resolution first declares that Israel – and only Israel – committed “unlawful acts” in the Gaza war. And then it establishes a committee of experts to monitor and assess all judicial and other proceedings taken by Israel to respond to the General Assembly’s endorsement of the Goldstone report and its long list of supposed Israeli crimes. 

 

The mandate also asks the new committee to assess the proceedings of the enigmatic “Palestinian side.” In the many resolutions on the Gaza war from the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council no mention is ever made of “Hamas,” which keeps with the UN fiction that the war entailed wanton Israeli aggression in a vacuum.  Instead of eight years of rocket attacks on Israel’s civilian population and an elected government that openly advocates genocide, the resolution creating the Goldstone inquiry describes the problem with the Palestinian side as “crude rockets…result[ing] in the loss of four civilian lives and some injuries.”

 

The fact that the mandate of the Goldstone inquiry was tainted from the outset, and that its successor is cut from the same cloth, did not deter three more lawyers from taking this latest UN job.  They are German Christian Tomuschat (chair), Malaysian Param Cumaraswamy, and American Mary Davis. As it turns out, the takers and their UN associates have more in common than first meets the eye.

 

The members of the new committee were appointed on June 14 by the UN high commissioner for human rights, South African Navi Pillay.  One of Pillay’s two legal advisers, and chief of her office’s “rule of law” branch, is Palestinian Mona Rishmawi, former executive director of the Palestinian NGO al-Haq and until 2000 a prominent director of a unit of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ). 

 

All three of the new committee members are affiliated with the ICJ.  Committee members Christian Tomuschat and Param Cumaraswamy were members of the ICJ’s executive committee during Rishmawi’s term at the ICJ.  Cumaraswamy was ICJ’s vice president until 2006.  Currently both are honorary members.  Mary Davis is currently on the board of the American Association for the ICJ.

 

The ICJ has been closely connected with the Human Rights Council’s campaign to vilify Israel over the Gaza war, and in particular, the Goldstone report and its follow-up.  In January 2009 the Council held a special session to denounce Israeli actions and adopt the resolution that gave rise to the Goldstone inquiry.  Of the thousands of UN-accredited NGOs, the ICJ was one of two-dozen that spoke.  It claimed Israel had violated international law during the conflict and called for the inquiry’s creation.  Then, on October 16, 2009, when the Council held a special session to endorse the Goldstone report, the ICJ was again one of the few NGO speakers. This time it specifically called the Israeli investigations into the Gaza conflict “ineffective as they lack safeguards of independence and impartiality…”  On June 24, 2010, soon after the appointment of the three senior ICJ members to the Goldstone follow-up committee, the ICJ issued a public statement coming to the defense of Goldstone, his apartheid-era past, and his report. 

 

The mandate establishing the committee that is now populated by ICJ members, however, demands the assessment of the “independence” and “effectiveness” of Israeli proceedings and their conformity with international standards.  Not only has the ICJ already expressed an opinion on the subject to be assessed, in its statements it claims that the prosecution and punishment of Israeli “civilian leaders and military commanders” for Goldstone’s list of crimes is “essential” to conform to those standards.

 

In effect, therefore, the new committee will constitute a direct assault against the individuals at the helm of Jewish self-determination.

 

The committee's work will be coordinated and facilitated by a UN secretariat official selected by High Commissioner Pillay, South African lawyer Ahmed Motala. No doubt, Mr. Motala was delighted to get the assignment.  On January 5, 2009 in the middle of the Gaza war, he wrote on the South African website www.thoughtleader.co.za the following:  “The war in Gaza and the killing of innocent Palestinians is not about Hamas, but entirely about the forthcoming elections in Israel…What better way to gain the support of the Israeli electorate than to…kill innocent civilians…The costs of victory in an election in Israel are being paid for by the blood of innocent Palestinians.”

 

Lawyers Motala, Tomuschat, Cumaraswamy, and Davis will now work together to implement what might even be described as a blood libel at the center of the Goldstone report.  In the report’s words:  Israel “deliberately…terrorize[d] a civilian population,” and Israeli “violence against civilians w[as] part of a deliberate policy.”  Rather than being motivated by self-defense, Israel’s political and military leadership allegedly set out to murder the people most deserving of protection, and this new UN cabal will pronounce on the willingness of Israel’s judiciary to respond accordingly.

 

The Organization of the Islamic Conference, the League of Arab States, and the United Nations apparatus are furiously pretending this is all about law – they call it “accountability” and an “end to impunity.”  Not surprisingly, the loudest calls are coming from states that care nothing for either concept when it comes to their own citizens, or accountability for the many heinous acts Palestinians perpetrate on each other.

 

In reality, of course, from conception, the target of the Goldstone report and its follow-up has always been Israel. Though the battleground has been painted over to look like a courtroom, the battle is political.  Today it happens to take the form of a partisan committee charged with investigating the independence of Israel’s own investigations, supported by pro-Palestinian advocates doubling as UN human rights officials.

 

The only way to respond is to challenge the legal bona fides of the report and its progeny and expose the venality of the political agenda inseparable from them. The case must begin by refusing to lend any credence to this latest mutation of the UN virus.

 

Anne Bayefsky is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and director of the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust.

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

 

The Immorality of the Moral High Ground

 

by Daniel Greenfield

 

Throughout the War on Terror, liberals have been lecturing us on the virtue of holding on to the "Moral High Ground", which is their way of saying that we should forgo trying to defeat terrorists military, and instead show them up with our superior civil liberties. Yes Abdul, you may have a suitcase nuke, but if we catch you, we'll still  pay for your legal defense. Torture our soldiers if you will, Mohammed, but see if you aren't impressed when we TIVO your favorite team's soccer matches for you in that horrible 19 million dollar hellhole of misery and degradation at Guantanamo Bay.

 

Of course Mohammed is never going to be very impressed by his free legal team, Halal cooking, volleyball courts and pro bono prosthetic legs, because Islamists don't derive their moral high ground from doing nice things for their enemies. They derive their moral high ground from getting up on a high place and tossing rocks or grenades down at their enemies. A Good Muslim is willing to kill for Islam. The Koran says so explicitly. On the other hand liberals insist that only a Bad American is willing to kill for America. A Good American will believe that Islam is a religion of peace, even while he's having his head chopped off by Johnny Mujaheed. He will eschew any tacky American flags, in favor of Chomsky and Zinn essays that will enable him to understand what a rotten country he lives in, and why the terrorists chopping his head off might have a point. All this really means is that practicing the Moral High Ground is a good way to get beheaded and reading the works of mentally ill Communists is not a good survival strategy.

We can't win the War on Terror so long as we hold to liberal definitions of the Moral High Ground. We can't even begin to really fight it. What's worse, is that not only does this warped understanding of morality result in more American deaths, it results in more deaths of both fighters and civilians on the enemy side. Because where the soldier understand that the most moral way to win a war is, quickly. The bleeding heart liberal thinks that the most moral way to win a war is, never. To a liberal if we must fight a war, we should do it with our hands tied behind our backs, and after a decade of senseless bloodshed, we'll finally come to realize that war is a bad thing.

Putting liberals in charge of determining what soldiers can do in a war is like putting die hard big government advocates in charge of privatizing the government. Not only will they see that the whole thing fails, they'll make sure that it fails as painfully and horribly as possible in order to serve as a lesson to any future government that might flirt with any similar notion. They did it with the War on Terror, intimidating military interrogators with threats of legal action and exposure, while helping the terrorists realize that all they need to do is claim torture in order to be set free. They did it brilliantly in Iraq, subverting the reconstruction in the aftermath of a successful war, from within, until the entire thing collapsed into squabbling factions. They did it on Iran, feeding false claims that there was no nuclear program long enough for Bush to leave office.

Their goal is to break Western civilization. Break it of its exceptionalism. Break it of any notion that it has any worthwhile accomplishments to its name. Break it of any idea that it has a right to exist. That is their real Moral High Ground. National and international suicide in favor of nobler and better Third World creeds that won't be as greedy or as industrially developed, and will build societies based on sharing and caring, and of course the obligatory head chopping. Nothing else matters.

Israel, which has its own hard-at-work left, has something similar called
"Purity of Arms" which is Hebrew for the "Courageous Restraint" medal that General McChrystal was thinking of handing out to US soldiers in Afghanistan for not killing terrorists. Purity of Arms is one of the best strategic advantages Israel has ever handed to the terrorists, because it gives the terrorists a free pass to carry out attacks behind civilians, while threatening soldiers with severe penalties if they fire without being 100 percent certain that they're about to be murdered if they don't. The ongoing captivity of Gilad Shalit and the entire Second Lebanon War would probably never have happened, if the IDF weren't constantly trapped in the Purity of Arms madness, as soldiers in a war zone are forced to second-guess their own survival, because Jewish self-defense is bad for public relations.

How many people died in both Israel and Lebanon because IDF soldiers are trained not to shoot, rather than to shoot, thereby allowing themselves to be ambushed by terrorists and turned into hostages and the causes of a war? How many more people will die when Noam Shalit finally gets his way and thousands of terrorists with blood on their hands are traded in for Gilad Shalit's freedom? And how many more will die when the cycle repeats itself. The numbers become more horrifying as you trace them back to their source.

 

Why does Israel have a terrorist problem, and not Jordan, which has the same Arab population that Israel does? It's not simply because Israel is mostly Jewish and Jordan is mostly Muslim, though that is a contributing factor. A primary focus of Islamists is to take over countries with majority Muslim populations in order to build the Caliphate. The reason is because in 1970 when the terrorists began hijacking planes and declared that a part of Jordan belonged to them, King Hussein sent in the army. He didn't kill a mere 52 Palestinian Arab terrorists, as Israel did in Jenin. Or a mere 107 in Deir Yassin. Not even the 800 or so killed in fighting between Arabs in Sabra and Shatilla. No, according to Arafat, King Hussein's troops killed an estimated 25,000 Palestinian Arabs.

This wasn't some sort of unique event by Middle Eastern standards. When the Islamists tried to stage an uprising in Hama, Syrian troops killed somewhere between 20,000 to 40,000 people. When Arafat sided with Saddam during the Gulf War, Kuwait
expelled 400,000 Palestinian Arabs. Why did they do it? Because by 1990, Kuwait had some 564,000 native Arabs, and some 450,000 Palestinian Arabs. So the Kuwaitis began bombing Palestinian Arab neighborhoods, top officials boasted about "cleansing" Palestinian Arabs from Kuwait, and tanks and troops were sent into Palestinian Arab neighborhoods, setting up checkpoints, killing, imprisoning and torturing thousands. There were plenty of atrocities that got brief mentions in the media, before the Palestinian Arabs were gone from Kuwait, and everyone moved on.

Just to grasp the sheer scale of the double standard here, in the same year that the Bush Administration was pressuring Israel to negotiate with the PLO in the name of human rights, President H.W. Bush gave a blank check to the Kuwaiti royal family to do anything they wanted to the Palestinian Arabs in their country. He told the Kuwaiti ambassador, "
The war wasn’t fought about democracy in Kuwait" and justified everything the royals were doing, saying, "I think we're expecting a little much if we're asking the people in Kuwait to take kindly to those that had spied on their countrymen that were left there, that had brutalized families there, and things of that nature." The Kuwaiti government newspaper Sawt Al Kuwait, featured Bush's comments under the headline, "We Would Be Asking a Lot, If We Asked Them to Show Mercy."

And that just about says it all. The same Western governments which think it's asking a lot to expect Muslims to show mercy, make those demands of Israel all the time. They make those demands of their own forces, while never expecting Muslims to show mercy.

There are no efforts to indict the Kuwaiti Royal Family or the Assad or Hussein clans for atrocities or war crimes. Bashar Assad is an honored visitor to the same UK, which calls in the Israeli ambassador every other weak, to preach to him about restraint. King Hussein remains widely popular. His wife Raina has a YouTube channel in which she talks about how important human rights are, and how awful the Israelis are to the same people that her hubby's regime rules over, and which his father massacred. The web isn't cluttered with piteous sites about the Black September massacres or the Kuwaiti ethnic cleansing of their Palestinian Arabs or the Syrian massacres at Hama. Aside from a few people who were directly affected by it, no one actually cares.

And who's to blame? The Moral High Ground is. Terrorist groups can only win, if you let them. Their entire strategy relies on drawing you into a conflict, on the understanding that you won't have the nerve to really crush them. If you do crush them, the conflict goes away. But if you try to be Mr. Nice Guy, the terrorists now have you hook, line and sinker. If you restrain yourself, you'll be involved in endless little fights, dying the death of a thousand cuts, until the terrorists and their international backers successfully replace you with a Pro-Appeasement government. And if you recognize the terrorists and make concessions to them, you'll be up to your neck in terror.

The only way the terrorists can win against superior forces is if those forces have their hands tied behind their backs. Governments that focus on "Hearts and Minds" campaigns, and care about posing and primping against the background of the Moral High Ground are the terrorists' best friends. But what is the real Moral High Ground? It's not mercy toward those who show you none. For governments it is about doing their duty by protecting their citizens. For soldiers it is about serving as the protectors of the home front. It is not about sparing enemies, either those under arms or those who aid and abet them. Because that is the surest way to prolong the conflict, and in the long run will cost more lives on both sides.

Not only that, but this false mercy actually kills more civilians, because it turns human shields into a viable tactic. A terrorist who hides behind a civilian, and doesn't get shot, learns that hiding behind civilians is a useful strategy. Other terrorists learn from him that civilians are better than bulletproof vests, because vests won't stop automatic fire, but human shields will. A terrorist who hides behind a civilian and gets shot, is dead, and a warning to other terrorists that hiding behind civilians is not a good way to stay alive. In the long run, the "cruel" act of disregarding a hostage is a much better way to protect civilians in conflict zones.

In the same way, stamping out the first terrorist attacks will save you from engaging in a prolonged struggle. That means doing it with decisive finality. This is a simple truth that every Middle Eastern country, but Israel understands. And a simple fact that every Muslim country understands, but the United States does not. Throw a dart at any major Muslim nation, and you find repression, mass graves and even genocide. Indonesia, Sudan, Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Turkey-- it never ends. There's a very simple reason for that. In Islam, force is the only real morality.

Mohammed is not the Prophet of Islam because he offended the Meccans and got killed for it. He's the prophet of a worldwide religion, because he killed everyone in his path. And then his followers killed everyone in their path. And then their followers went on doing the same damn thing for over a thousand years, right into the present day-- where Muslims are still killing and making war on everyone who isn't a Muslim, and refuses to become one. Islam has only one real revelation, death. But it has to be death with a purpose. The purpose is the triumph of Islam. If victory is possible, then the Islamists have plenty of volunteers to die, because they believe in the Islamic paradise and its 72 virgins. If on the other hand, the Islamists get stomped into the dirt, their religious credibility runs at an all time low. When victory is impossible, Islam withers and goes into the long sleep of cultural hibernation to awaken in a more permissive time.

There's only one way to defeat terrorists. To fight them without any more restraint than they impose on themselves. Under such conditions, superior force and technology makes the victory of the civilized side inevitable, and creates an incentive for the uncivilized side to become civilized, or pay the price. The Moral High Ground, the whole idea that restraint toward those who would kill you is the essence of morality, is one of the most perniciously self-destructive ideas ever coined. It is suicide with a slogan. The Moral High Ground is not moral and it is not the high ground, it is the way by which civilians go to their death over the cliff of their own warped ideals.

There is only one Moral High Ground that that can defeat, the moral high ground of standing up for civilization, against those who would drown it in the ichor of their own hate, the stench of their own greed, the lust of their own power and the blood of their endless murders. It is not moral to let your family be murdered, rather than harm the murderers. He who slays those who kill his loves ones, stands on the true moral high ground. The only true Moral High Ground that there is.

 

 

Daniel Greenfield

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

 

Summing up for a legal lynching

 

by  Melanie Phillips

 

Remember Judge Bathurst Norman, who summed up for the jury that went on to acquit the seven defendants who had attacked a Brighton factory that sold armaments to Israel by commenting that

 

'you may well think that hell on earth would not be an understatement of what the Gazans suffered in that time'.

 

Well, Jonathan Hoffman has obtained the 87-page transcript of that summing up – and it's far, far more extraordinary and appalling even than the remark above suggested. Here is a flavour of what he has posted up from it on the Cifwatch blog, with his own gloss (the judge's comments are set here in bold type):

 

were prepared to stand up for what they believe to be right, and sometimes, as in the case of the suffragettes, even to go to prison for their beliefs. As Edmund Burke says: "For injustice to flourish, all that is needed is for good men to do nothing." Indeed, people like Mr Osmond  [Christopher Osmond, the leader of the seven who admitted causing £187,000 of damage to the EDO factory]  who put themselves in harm's way to protect others may, in fact – there may be much to be admired about people like that. Perhaps if he had done it in this country in the last war he would probably have received a George Medal.

 

... Page 67: He [Osmond] knew of the Philadelphi corridor, the corridor made around the boundaries of Gaza by the illegal demolition of Palestinian homes by the Israeli army, during which Rachel Corrie, one of the International Solidarity Volunteers bravely stood in front of a bulldozer which was being driven by an Israeli soldier and was effectively murdered when he drove the bulldozer over her in 2003.

 

Now for the truth. Corrie was not "murdered". The IDF investigation concluded that the driver of the bulldozer could not see her and that her death was an unfortunate accident. The IDF Judge Advocate's Office concluded:

 

The driver at no point saw or heard Corrie. She was standing behind debris which obstructed the view of the driver and the driver had a very limited field of vision due to the protective cage he was working in.

 

An autopsy revealed that the bulldozer never rolled over Corrie: she was killed when debris dislodged by the bulldozer struck her head.

 

Page 14: I am going to start with the background relating to Israel and Palestine and to the evidence which points to the war crimes being committed by Israel in Gaza, an area over which Israel has imposed a blockade. The evidence shows that those war crimes are committed against the civilian population of Gaza and against the property of its residents, including the United Nations by the Israeli Forces.

 

This is pure demonisation of Israel to the Jury. There is no evidence that Israel committed war crimes in Gaza. Israel did pay the UN compensation for UN properties in Gaza that were damaged but what Bathurst-Norman failed to tell the Jury was that Hamas terrorists deliberately hid among civilians and in the vicinity of UN installations. There is no such country as "Palestine" – surely a Judge briefing a Jury has an obligation to be accurate about such things?

 

Page 14: Now you have to look at the evidence coldly and dispassionately. It may be as you went through what I can only describe as horrific scenes, scenes of devastation to civilian population, scenes which one would rather have hoped to have disappeared with the Nazi regimes of the last war, you may have felt anger and been absolutely appalled by them, but you must put that emotion aside.

 

Good grief. The judge even compared the Israelis to the Nazis – all because they defended themselves against attack by the direct heirs to those who were actually  in alliance  with the Nazis in pursuit of the annihilation of the Jews during World War Two. This is of course the most offensive and grotesque collective libel, which demonises Israel wholly unjustly and, indeed, in the most cretinous way -- and by implication also downgrades the Nazi genocide.

 

When this kind of rank bigotry flows from rogue politicians or far-left journalists or academics, that's bad enough. But for a judge to abuse the task of summing up evidence to a jury by turning it into a platform for his own personal prejudice is startling even by the standards of Britain's degraded and vicious Judeophobic public discourse.

This was a summing-up for a legal lynching. If the senior judiciary does not institute action against this judge for such a gross abuse of his position, we shall have to conclude that they too see nothing wrong with it -- and thus have abandoned all claim to objectivity, fairness or due process in the justice system. We shall have to conclude that, for the English judiciary, there is now one law for the gentiles and another law for the Jews.

 

 

Melanie Phillips

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

 

Israel Wins, Hamas and Libya Lose in Latest Blockade Stunt

 

by  Leo Rennert

 

After days of bluster by Libya that its aid ship was going to challenge Israel's blockade of Gaza, the Libyan-rented, Greek-owned, Maldovan-flagged vessel turned tail and, following IDF orders, docked instead at the Egyptian port of El-Arish.

Israel obviously emerges as the big winner from this episode -- the first time a Gaza-bound ship turned around without the Israeli Navy even having to board it or escort it to an Israeli port.

 

But there also are some notable losers as well and it bears singling them out:

 

LOSER NO. 1--The Hamas regime in Gaza.  Even as the Amalthea headed toward 'El-Arish, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Hanyeh pleaded for it to remain on course toward GazaHamas even arranged a seaside welcoming ceremony.  A well-merited come-uppance for Hamas.

 

LOSER NO. 2--Libyan dictator Moammar Qaddafi and his son, who under the guise of a Libyan charity, launched this ill-fated challenge to Israel's blockade.  Qaddafi is bound to lose face with fellow Arab leaders because at Arab summits he usually taunts them for leaving the Palestinians in the lurch -- accusing them of talking the talk, but not walking the walk.  After the worldwide criticism of Israel for its botched raid on a Turkish flotilla on May 31 which ended with nine Turkish activists dead after they attacked Israeli boarding commandos, the Quaddafis evidently saw a chance to strike next and to prove to the rest of the Arab world that they weren't going to be cowed by IsraelBut when the chips were down, the Libyan leadership blinked. Qadaffi, Sr., according to reports from Tripoli, even gave orders to prevent his son from taking a private plane and heading for Gaza.  Both Qaddafis eventually stepped back from the brink.

 

LOSER No. 3--Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, who must have thought that the publicity he reaped from his provocative misadventure in failing to break the Gaza blockade would prompt a follow-up wave of ships heading for Gaza.  Iran threatened to send its own ships and have its Navy escort them into Gaza.  It was all talk.  Then, there were anti-Israel elements in Lebanon who were going to have an all-women crew and passengers aboard a blockade-running vessel.  It also didn't happen.

 

For its part, Israel this time didn't wait for a confrontation on the high seas to explain its right to blockade Hamas-run Gaza.  Instead, it launched a major pre-emptive diplomatic strike, enlisting the European Union and the Obama administration in a concerted effort to apply as much pressure as possible on Libya and the Greek owners of the Amalthea to desist. 

 

Italy, which has some influence in Libya, was enlisted to help Qaddafi realize that this was a no-win endeavor on his part.  Tony Blair, the international Middle East envoy, stepped in and repeatedly called on the ship not to run the blockade. 

 

With Israel expanding the scope of goods supplied to Gaza through land crossings, Prime Minister Netanyahu made headway with his message that there was absolutely no need for any ships to run the blockade with more provisions than Gaza needed or could absorb.  Israel, in its public diplomacy blitz also reminded the world about Libya's lengthy record of supporting terrorism, including the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 in 1988 over Lockerbie, Scotland, which claimed 270 lives.

 

Netanyahu also managed to enlist Egypt, which agreed to let the vessel dock in its port instead.   As the Amalthea arrived in El-Arish, Egyptian officials poured more salt in Hamas's wound by announcing that the vessel's aid cargo would reach Gaza by land -- after first being inspected by Israel

 

Thus, when the Amalthea laid anchor in El-Airish, it was Hamas that ended up more isolated than ever, while Israel -- far from isolated on the international scene as most mainstream media depict it -- successfully aligned the "international community" on its side.

 

 

Leo Rennert

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

 

Coincidence rarely explains events in southern Lebanon

 

by Michael Young

 

The recent tension in southern Lebanon between villagers and the United Nations force, Unifil, was no coincidence. Hizbollah, which tightly controls the south, saw an opportunity to send several messages, while issuing a warning to the international peacekeepers that their freedom to manoeuvre was limited.

 

The ostensible cause of the confrontations was ambiguity in interpreting UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the summer 2006 war between Hizbollah and Israel. The resolution grants Unifil the right to take "all necessary action" to implement UN conditions in the south and to "assist" the Lebanese army. However, Shiite villagers, pushed by Hizbollah, have reinterpreted this mandate, saying the force can only carry out inspections in the presence of the Lebanese army. When Unifil did not do so, the inhabitants of two villages blocked patrols and assaulted troops.

 

Initially, the Lebanese army and government failed to back up the UN. The angry response of states contributing soldiers to Unifil led to a meeting of the Security Council last week. Lebanon backtracked, vowing to continue co-operating with the UN. However, the incidents in the south confirmed once again that Hizbollah has substantial control over the Lebanese army, particularly the army's intelligence services.

 

Complicating matters, Hizbollah's commander in southern Lebanon, Sheikh Nabil Qawouq, said on Sunday that the army had discovered that Israel had asked Unifil to search particular houses in the south. There was no evidence whatsoever for the charge, but it did widen the rift between Unifil and villagers, while making it seem that the Lebanese army opposed the international force.

 

Behind the façade of hostility to the UN, Hizbollah has more intricate calculations. The party's freedom to act both politically and militarily is essential to its role as an extension of Iran on the Israeli border. Hizbollah's weapons serve many purposes. They are a deterrent against an Israeli or American attack on Iranian nuclear facilities, but also an instrument of retaliation if one occurs. They also allow the party to dominate Lebanon's Shiites, who view the weapons as a means of self-defence and an assertion of communal supremacy.

 

Most important, the weapons allow Hizbollah to impose "resistance" as a national priority on its reluctant partners in the state, which in turn justifies the party retaining its weapons.

 

At a broader level, the quarrel with Unifil may also be seen as an Iranian reply to the recent passage of Security Council sanctions against Tehran. The point was a simple one: UN forces are vulnerable in Lebanon. However, if the south allows Hizbollah to open many advantageous doors on behalf of its regional allies, Iran as well as Syria, the party has two domestic preoccupations that the standoff with Unifil highlighted.

 

The first is that Hizbollah, to protect itself, needs to prepare the ground psychologically for a possible war with Israel. Despite the support the party enjoys among Shiites, the community does not relish seeing its villages and livelihood destroyed yet again. Despite the official rhetoric favouring "resistance", this is a result of Hizbollah and Syrian intimidation, not enthusiasm by other religious groups for Hizbollah's aims. Simply put, Lebanon is not ready for a war with Israel, one that will be far worse than the conflict of 2006.

 

There is also Hizbollah's uncertainty about indictments coming out, perhaps later this year, from the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, set up to prosecute those behind the assassination in 2005 of the former Lebanese prime minister, Rafiq Hariri. While the UN-mandated investigation of Mr Hariri's murder has been riddled with flaws, notably the reluctance of the second investigator, Serge Brammertz, to pursue Syria's role in the crime, there are signs that low-level Hizbollah operatives are likely to be accused of participation. No date has been set for indictments, and they may not be announced this year, but Hizbollah is taking pre-emptive precautions.

 

Both the party and Syria have made it plain to the prime minister, Saad Hariri, what they expect him to do. They want the Lebanese government to declare the trial process "politicised", and therefore illegitimate. Hizbollah has warned that if its members are indicted, the consequences may be dire for domestic peace. In other words, unless Mr Hariri protects Hizbollah from the tribunal, the party may hit out against him and the party's domestic foes.

 

In this light, the harassment of Unifil might be interpreted, among other things, as a warning shot directed at Mr Hariri and Lebanese state institutions, all greatly discredited by the incidents.

 

Understandably, however, Hizbollah sees real problems with pursuing a strategy of internal destabilisation. If the party's priority is to ensure that Lebanon rallies around Hizbollah in any new war against Israel, then provoking domestic dissension is hardly an ideal way of going about this.

 

Moreover, Hizbollah's browbeating may just strengthen Mr Hariri's resolve, since he is deeply averse to whitewashing those involved in his father's killing. The paradox is that Hizbollah, in its efforts to maintain its military capacity, which requires that the tribunal be neutralised, may undermine the already volatile, sceptical consensus around the resistance.

 

These are not minor issues for the party. Hizbollah has worked hard to weaken the Lebanese state and armed forces to its own advantage. But, ultimately, a war with Israel, particularly one on Iran's behalf, will be a national war generating national dissatisfaction. The party will find it much tougher in that context to enforce unanimity, especially if it stands accused of having killed Rafiq Hariri.

 

What happened in southern Lebanon recently was a sign that Hizbollah is preparing for choppy seas ahead.

 

 

Michael Young is opinion editor of the Daily Star newspaper in Beirut.

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

 

The two faces of Mahmoud Abbas: He says one thing to the Palestinians, another to Obama

 

by Elliott Abrams

 

"I say in front of you, Mr. President, that we have nothing to do with incitement against Israel, and we're not doing that," claimed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during his visit to the White House in June.

 

It is unfortunate for the prospects of Middle East peace that this denial by Abbas (who is also head of the PLO and Fatah) was just plain untrue. In fact, this two-faced stance of Abbas and his cronies - proclaiming peaceful intentions to the international community while inciting their population to hatred of Israel - is one of the primary impediments to any sort of solution to the longstanding crisis.

 

And yet there are countless examples of pronouncements or actions by Abbas and other Palestinian leaders that suggest a glorification of violence and terrorism and undermine the belief that they seek peace. This very month, for example, Abbas publicly mourned the death of Mohammed Oudeh, mastermind of the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre: "The deceased was one of the prominent leaders of the Fatah movement and lived a life filled with the struggle, devoted effort, and the enormous sacrifice of the deceased for the sake of the legitimate problem of his people."

 

Abbas also told Arab journalists in Amman, Jordan, that "We are unable to confront Israel militarily, and this point was discussed at the Arab League summit in March in [Libya]. There I turned to the Arab states and I said: 'If you want war, and if all of you will fight Israel, we are in favor. But the Palestinians will not fight alone because they don't have the ability to do it.' "

 

Why should Israelis, or Americans for that matter, believe his commitment to peace in English, when in Arabic he treats war as an acceptable option?

 

President Obama is well aware that popular incitement remains a thorn in the side of serious talks. In May, the President said that he had "mentioned to President Abbas in a frank exchange that it was very important to continue to make progress in reducing the incitement and anti-Israel sentiments that are sometimes expressed in schools and mosques and in the public square, because all those things are impediments to peace."

 

At a dinner for Abbas during his Washington visit, I confronted him with several recent examples of incitement, as well as the denial that he made to the President. His reply was that of a bureaucrat, not a peacemaker: He did not deny the allegations, but said that if true they should be raised at a tripartite committee (the United States, the Palestinian Authority and Israel) that had been established by the Oslo Accords.

 

If peace is our goal, such a response is deeply inadequate. Abbas should handle incitement by stopping it, not seeking committee meetings - and especially not by denying that incitement occurs in the first place. Of course, it's easy to see why, politically, Abbas and others in the PLO and Fatah leadership avoid confronting these organizations' long involvement in terrorism, but if they cannot do so, the chances for real peace are slim. A leadership whose maps do not even show an entity called Israel is unlikely to tell Palestinian refugees that it has given up their "right of return" or that their long-hoped-for Palestinian state within the 1967 borders will not include control of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

 

In fact, the critical insight achieved by the Bush administration was that the character of that state, and of Palestinian society, are more important than final borders in achieving and maintaining peace.

 

Is terrorism defended and glorified by the top officials? Are terrorists who murder children branded as heroes whom schoolchildren should admire? Is war with Israel a tactic that must be set aside only for pragmatic reasons, and even then only as a short-term strategy?

 

Obama is right to keep raising this subject with Abbas, but Presidents have been raising it for years. As the Palestinian leadership never seems to pay any penalty for its words, America's seriousness about the peace process is in doubt.

 

If the Obama administration is dedicated to a major peace effort in the coming year, the incitement issue should be at the top of its agenda. Because when direct negotiations do finally begin, the key test of Palestinian commitment to peace will not be what Abbas and his colleagues say to Americans in English, but what they say in Arabic to Palestinians - about Israel, about terrorism and about real peace.

 

 

Elliott Abrams  is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

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

 

The Spiritual Fathers of the Taliban and the Hamas

 

by Prof. Raphael Israeli

 

The celebrated Muslim Sociologist and historian, Ibn Khaldun, who lived a short span of time after the fundamentalist Muslim Berber dynasties of North Africa, the Almoravids and the Almohads (11-13 Centuries), characterized their short-lived revolutionary, xenophobic, intolerant  and cruel rule  as if he were describing  some of today’s  Muslim radical groups which torment our planet. Their systems began with mass movements, led by charismatic leaders who were also religious preachers (da’i), moved by an esprit de corps (‘asabiya), which took three generations to taper off. After that  period of erosion, the movement grew clumsy and fat, more urban than rural,  more lax than  ascetic, and a new challenger emerged which  triggered the cycle again from scratch.

 

In the Muslim world of our time we have been witnessing Muslim radical regimes (like Iran and Taliban Afghanistan), and Muslim fundamentalist movements such as the Taliban, al-Qa’ida, Hamas, HIzbullah and others, all aspiring to apply strictly  shari’a law, all embracing an anti-Western and anti-Semitic ideology, all led by charismatic leaders, all combining military training  and usage of weapons with religious  indoctrination, all lending primacy to the hereafter over life of corruption and debauchery in the present world. Now, as during their medieval  antecedents, they used students (under the Almohads they were called tolba,  now Taliban), and they educate an entire generation for Jihad and self-sacrifice.

 

This means that the turbulence that has been sweeping the contemporary Muslim world and threatening to push it  beyond the pale of civilization, is nothing new. This cyclical appearance on the world stage of movements of “purification”, which in the process evince extreme outbursts of violence, hatred, anti-Semitism, aggression and radicalism, sometimes coerce states into an untenable  system of horrors (like Iran  or Taliban Afghanistan), most of the times challenging the non-Islamic regimes in place (Egypt, Pakistan, Yemen) and waiting in the aisles for their demise. Even Turkey, which had been subtracted from this cycle by forced secularization by Attaturk, took 80 years to revert to the old  Muslim pattern by the thuggish regime of Erdogan.

 

The West and Israel must, then, learn from history to resist and lay low until this muddled wave of  ill-will and Satanic ideas recedes under the self-destructive  instinct underlying it. In the past,  medieval Islamic dynasties have  appeared culturally luminous against the dark skies of Europe and the obscure depth to which the expelled, persecuted, massacred and despised  and stateless Jewish diasporas had been  pushed. But now, new Israel has been solidly anchored in western civilization and proudly waving some of its pioneering banners, while the Muslim world as a whole is sunk in poverty, bigotry, ill-rule, hatred and consecration of death.

 

 

 

 

 

Prof. Raphael Israeli  teaches Islam at Hebrew University.

 

 

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