Friday, December 21, 2012

Mordechai Kedar: Two Years After the Flood



by Mordechai Kedar

Read the article in Italiano (translated by Yehudit Weisz, edited by Angelo Pezzana)
It is now two years since the rude jolt that sent several Arab leaders hurtling to the hard ground of the reality that they themselves have had no small part in creating. Dozens of years of dictatorship, criminal neglect, political corruption, cronyism and nepotism, have turned the Arab world into a barrel of extremely explosive gun powder .  The Arab satellite media, especially Al Jazeera, the jihad channel of the Muslim Brotherhood, has been flooding the area with high octane gas fumes by broadcasting unrestrained propaganda against the Arab dictators – “the rulers of the 99 percent below zero” in their words – led by Mubarak, Asad, Qadhaffi and Saddam Hussein.

This channel served as the pyromaniac who carried the burning torch from one arena to another, from Tunisia to Egypt, from Libya to Yemen, from Bahrain to Syria as its spokesmen, headed by  the Emir of Qatar asked: “Who will be next?” The masses, addicted to this channel since the end of 1996, did what was expected of them by the people of the channel, chiefly the Emir of Qatar, Hamed bin Khalifa al-Thani, who built up tremendous power for himself by means of the  reckless satellite channel, which exerts control over the hungry, neglected, oppressed and wretched masses.

It is not within the scope of this article to give a detailed review of the last two years in each one of the states involved in the upheaval, but we shall mark the end point to which each of them arrived.

Tunisia – The Opening Shot

In December 2010, in the peripheral town of Sidi Bou Said, a young, unemployed man by the name of Muhammad bou Azizi immolated himself, and the flames ignited the fumes wafting around the Arab barrel of gun powder . The demonstrations caused president Zine al-Abadine bin Ali to flee the country, but not before he and his wife stole a ton and a half of gold from the central bank. In elections that were held in 2011, the Islamic party, which had been forbidden until then, won first place. However, since it did not win a majority of seats in the parliament, it had to form a coalition with a secular party headed by Munsaf al-Marzouki, a liberal intellectual, who fought for years for human rights in Tunisia and lived in exile until 2011 because of his criticism of President bin Ali. The leader of the Islamic stream, Rashid al-Ghanoushi, offered  the secular al-Marzouki to serve as president of Tunisia, which made it easier for the secular sectors of society to accept the legitimacy of the new regime, even though the Islamic party was predominant. From this point of view, the change in Tunisia is a source of inspiration, especially in light of the fact that it is the first experiment to create a democratic political system  after long years of the autocratic rule of presidents Bourugiba and bin Ali. The hopes of the citizens of Tunisia skyrocketed.

But the relative stability in the political arena did not bring about meaningful change in the life of the individual, especially in his economic situation. There are many reasons for this: the corrupt governmental system, large parts of which remain from the days of bin Ali and continued to conduct itself according to the practice “A friend brings a friend”; the infrastructures are still in the same miserable state that they were in during bin Ali’s time; The investors do not rush to invest in initiatives in Tunisia that might create sources of livelihood; the economic crisis in Europe prevents significant growth  of production. The Tunisian citizen now understands that his political hopes, which were fulfilled well, did not translate into a significant improvement in his economic situation.

Another issue that did not undergo a meaningful change is the social stratification in Tunisia. The Tunisian population is polarized between the urban elite and the marginal layers that live in the agricultural suburbs and the desert, the greater part of whom live within a tribal framework. The city is much more open, secular and liberal than the periphery, which remain closed, religious and traditional. The Ethnic issue also has a negative influence on the sense of unity in Tunisia, because in addition to the Arabs who live there, there are also Berbers and Africans, who suffer from a negative image. This situation exists regardless of the regime, and the change resulting from the removal of bin Ali has had no influence on the social stratification in Tunisia.

As a result of the economic difficulties, Tunisia has witnessed a series of protest demonstrations against the regime in recent months, mainly in the periphery. Things have even reached the point where President al-Mourzuki, who came last week to the town of Sidi Bou Said – the focal point from where the upheaval that eventually encompassed the Arab world began – in order to participate in a ceremony in memory of Muhammad Bou Azizi, was forced to retreat from the place because of the rocks that were rained down upon him, and because of the cries and curses that were hurled at him. He wanted democracy and got it right in his face, and the people wanted democracy but have now understood that it is not a money-printing machine.

There is not an optimistic forecast for Tunisia: the economic situation in the world in general and in Europe in particular is not expected to improve dramatically in the near future; the administration will not change its imbedded habits of corruption, and social stratification will continue to have a negative influence on opportunities for the country, especially for the youth who live in the social and economic periphery. The resentment that results from these flaws has a negative influence on political stability, and the lack of stability may have a negative influence on investments, and consequently on the economic situation as well. 

For the Tunisian masses who support the Islamic movement it has become clear that the movement has no magic wand that can solve the country’s problems, and it is not clear if there is anything at all to the slogan “Islam is the Solution”, which was the watchword of the party. 

Egypt – A Complicated Tangle

On the 25th of January, it will be two years since the beginning of the upheaval in this country. There are  are many significant accomplishments of the revolution: Mubarak, the corrupt dictator sits in the defendant’s cage, the heads of his government have been removed – some of them to prison – in disgrace, the Muslim Brotherhood has won the office of presidency and half of the seats of parliament, the military “has been put in its place” by an Islamic president, and even the president of the United States receives the regime of the Muslim Brotherhood as a fait accompli.

However, the situation in Egypt is complicated and complex on a number of levels:  the free youth of the revolution, the liberals, the secular, the educated and the unemployed, who with their bodies removed Mubarak and paid for the demonstrations against him in blood, have discovered that their revolution has been stolen from them. In their worst nightmares they did not foresee that the civil revolution would become an Islamic revolution. Women in casual shirts and jeans who demonstrated two years ago in Tahrir (“liberation”) Square did not expect that as a result of the revolution, representatives of the Salafist party, those who believe that “the best hijab for a woman is her house”, would occupy a quarter of the seats of parliament.

But the political disappointments – as great as they are – are much, much less disheartening than the economic ones. In Egypt too, most of the administration of the previous regime has remained in place, and it is filled with layers of hidden unemployment, excess employees, cumbersome bureaucracy, nepotism, and the chance that it will bring the country to a state of development and prosperity are no greater than in the days of Mubarak.

Tourism, which, in the days of Mubarak granted livelihood to millions of Egyptians, has disappeared and with it, this important source of livelihood for many Egyptians has also disappeared. These people today live far below the line of poverty, which, in Egypt, is quite low to begin with. Foreign investors have refrained for the past two years from investing in Egypt, because the security situation is not stable and it is not clear to them if they will see any profit at all from their investment, which might go down the drain. The lack of investments has a negative influence on the creation of new sources of employment for the masses of Egyptians who enter  the work force every year, to establish a family and to support it. The many unemployed university graduates who come up against the severe employment reality, cause an explosive social situation; the average age of  marriage is rising and has passed the 30 mark, establishing a family (“opening a home”) has become an impossible economic task for most of the youth and this is enough to launch them into the streets to let off the steam that has accumulated against the symbols of the regime, institutions of the state and police stations.

The constitution, which is being voted upon these days, grants many authorities to the president at the expense of the other institutions, mainly the parliament, and it starts to smell like a dictatorship. Many – even among the religious sectors of society – ask if this is what the Muslim Brotherhood has come to power for. The activity of parliament, which was elected about a year ago, was frozen by an edict of the court, and it doesn’t seem that the president is rushing to renew the activity of the parliament. He does not want to be called upon to answer embarrassing questions that might be addressed to him from parliament, which has authority  because it was chosen by democratic and fair elections. He is not interested in a parliament that will pass budgetary laws that are not consistent with his opinion, and in general – the combination of a president with a clear cultural, social and political agenda and a parliament which is polarized within by various contradictory trends, is not a prescription for political stability, but rather for a dead end, with the two sides stuck in an embrace where each side sticks a knife into the other.

Two years after the upheaval in Egypt and this country seems like a rickety wagon with several formidable and powerful horses pulling it at full speed, but in different directions: the president, the constitutional committee, the members of parliament, the military, the government, which is always temporary, the secular street, the religious street, the Salafis and supporters of Mubarak. The forecast for the future is not rosy, because the constitutional-governmental knot has a bad influence on the economy, which is collapsing in the first place, and the struggle for the cultural image of Egypt slips too many times into violence that causes more violence from the police, which raises the ire of the public to levels that bring to mind the rage that accompanied the struggle against Mubarak. In retrospect it could be that among the Muslim Brotherhood there are those who feel that it was a mistake on their part to try to drive the rickety Egyptian cart, because there is no chance to come to any positive goal, and they – despite inheriting a very difficult situation form Mubarak and Tantawi – will be identified with the failure. 

Syria – The Next Massacre

For 21 months, since March of 2011, observers of the events have the sense that the collapse of Asad is near, and with his collapse the state will be broken up into homogeneous units : Kurds in the northeast of the country, ‘Alawites in the west, Druze in the south, Bedouins in the East, Damascenes in the center and residents of Aleppo in the North. The idea that an autonomous ‘Alawite unit might be established comes from information that the regime is streaming heavy weapons, ammunition and heavy equipment into the area of the mountains of Ansariyya in the West of the country, the traditional dwelling place of the ‘Alawites, so that they will be able to defend themselves against the Muslims’ attack on the mountain and its inhabitants.

In recent days, information has begun to surface that units belonging to the Free Syrian Army are attacking the mountains of Ansariyya, and that tens of ‘Alawite villages have been abandoned out of fear of Muslim knives that are filled with hatred for the ‘Alawites and because of the Muslims’  strong desire to avenge upon them the deeds of slaughter that the regime has carried out against the citizens of Syria for the past two years, and also in previous periods, such as the period between 1976 and 1982, when the Muslim Brotherhood first arose, that ended in the slaughter of thousands of men, women and children in the city of Hama in February of 1982.

If this information is indeed correct, and Asad’s opposition is indeed taking control of Ansariyya, this might be the physical end of the ‘Alawaites and the end of their dream to control even themselves. The blood that will be spilled when the Muslims slaughter them will be much more than was spilled until today, and it is not clear how much the world will feel compelled to help this group when push comes to shove, and knives are at their throats.

What does this say about the future of Syria? It seems that Syria is sinking in a swamp of blood, fire and tears, as it is torn into pieces by hundreds of militias, some of which have cultural and religious orientation identical to that of bin Laden and al-Qaeda. This development might be very problematic for Israel because neighbors like these do not bode well, and if heavy weapons or weapons of mass destruction fall into their hands, Israel might find itself  in the near future coping with threats that it is not used to.

Libya – Tribal Wars

In this country, stricken by tribalism, a coalition of tribes together with massive  NATO support succeeded to remove Qadhaffi, but since he was eliminated by his opposition more than a year ago, Libya has become an arena for battles between tribes over economic and governmental interests  and for territory and influence. Eastern tribal headquarters – Cyrenaica – are fighting against the tribes of the West – Tripolotania, and the southern tribes are enemies of all the others.

Libyan society is polarized also on an ethnic basis, around the Arab-Berber split that has economic and governmental implications as well. The prediction is that as long as Libya continues to be one state it will continue to be an arena for tribal struggles. Why? Because – that’s the natural situation between tribes, and especially those that live in the Sahara, who for hundreds of years and more, have developed strong and dangerous“’atsabiyya” (tribal rivalry) , mainly towards “the other” (anyone who is different from him). The fact that weapons are widespread in the Libyan desert means that the violence inherent to the culture of the region, is turning the matter into something particularly deadly. 
Hypocrisy At its Worst

The upheaval in the Arab world is the result of a basically terrible situation created by the regimes, an atmosphere of enmity toward the regimes created by the al Jazeera channel and the huge fire that Muhammad bou Azizi ignited. During the past two years, the principality of Qatar has been, and still is involved up to its neck in funding the chaos and sending various types of support to Libya and Syria, and the al Jazeera channel, which is the operative agent, ignites the problem in Arab countries by calling for democracy, human rights and freedom of expression in these countries.

But Qatar itself cannot stand up to al Jazeera’s standards when it comes to democracy: in the beginning of this December, the Qatari court sent a 36-year old poet by the name of Muhammad ben al-Dhiab  al-Ajami to prison for life, because while he praised the revolutions in the Arab world, he also criticized the Emir of Qatar. Al-Ajami went even further and called for revolution in Qatar, even though he knew that the punishment for this is death. 

If the Emir of Qatar does not pardon al-Ajami, he will be inviting sharp criticism from anyone who has a mouth and a tongue in the Arab world, but he will pay no heed to the criticism and will continue to encourage the Muslim Brotherhood to take control of the rest of the countries of the Arab world, while shutting mouths in his own back yard.

A General Picture

Two years after the beginning of the upheaval in the Arab world, the  picture does not arouse too much optimism. The rulers of still more countries are standing on shaky ground, and the wave may reach them too. 

Israel again appears as an island of stability and sanity in a roiling and stormy sea, where rickety boats are about to sink along with their inhabitants. May Allah save the Arab peoples.



 ===============

Dr. Kedar is available for lectures


Dr. Mordechai Kedar
(Mordechai.Kedar@biu.ac.il) is an Israeli scholar of Arabic and Islam, a lecturer at Bar-Ilan University and the director of the Center for the Study of the Middle East and Islam (under formation), Bar Ilan University, Israel. He specializes in Islamic ideology and movements, the political discourse of Arab countries, the Arabic mass media, and the Syrian domestic arena.

Translated from Hebrew by Sally Zahav with permission from the author.


Additional articles by Dr. Kedar

Source: The article is published in the framework of the Center for the Study of the Middle East and Islam (under formation), Bar Ilan University, Israel. Also published in Makor Rishon, a Hebrew weekly newspaper.
Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the author.

A 'Bloc' of Lies



by Prof. Ron Breiman


The current public and media discourse in Israel is riddled with lies, adopted by the masses without a second thought. 

One of those lies is the concept of a political "bloc" made up of the political parties to the left of Likud. Everyone knows that these leftist parties are all vying for each other's voters. But this hasn't stopped supportive commentators and the heads of those parties from referring to a "Center-Left bloc." This term is wrong and misleading, but it continues to star in the election process even as former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Hatnuah Chairwoman Tzipi Livni — the architects of the disengagement debacle — outflank Meretz on the Left, and cannot be defined as centrist or draw votes away from Likud.

Another so-called "bloc" is the European Union, whose membership numbers have only grown since its establishment, with the collapse of the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia. More may even be on the way, with growing pressure for Basque, Catalan and Scottish independence, as well as a possible Belgian split into two separate states. Another process threatening the "bloc" is the slow but steady conquest of some European nations by Muslim immigrants. 

But these processes haven't prevented the European "bloc" — especially those members that have shady colonialist histories — from condemning Israel over its plan to expand construction in Jerusalem. In fact, these countries, some motivated by anti-Semitic sentiments and others by defeatist ones, stand steadfastly by the Holocaust denier from Ramallah, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. In other words, they support the "good" terrorists from the Palestine Liberation Organization — all of Palestine.

It is no wonder, then, that precisely on the day that the European "bloc" was so perturbed by Israel's construction plans and efforts to protect itself from the Arab occupier — the Arabs are the true occupiers in the land of Israel — the hypocritical Europeans were awarded the Nobel Prize for ... peace. The same prize that has lost all meaning ever since it was awarded to the biggest of archterrorists, Yasser Arafat. 

But who are we to complain about the Europeans misreading reality in such an egregious way, thinking that Israel is an occupying force in its own land and pushing for the foolishness that is the two-state solution? How can we fault the Europeans for distinguishing between "good" and "bad" terrorists and for preventing Israel from going after either kind when our very own leftist "bloc" keeps making the exact same statements and spreading the same lies?

We are talking about President Shimon Peres, the man who brought the bottle of Oslo poison to Israel, who is now warning against the perils of Hamas but still encouraging Israelis to drink the poison he brought. We are talking about Tzipi Livni, who established her own personal movement (with her party, Hatnuah, “The Movement”), which is supposed to be based on the diplomatic "experience" of the woman who afflicted Israel with the Oslopolis (Oslo and Annapolis) process and whose every diplomatic move has been based on appeasing those who exert pressure on Israel from within and without. That was her plan for combating diplomatic isolation. In reality, however, she left nothing but scorched earth behind her in Israeli foreign policy. 

In this reality that has been created, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has no choice but to smash the lie linking a Palestinian state with peace once and for all. These two things are direct opposites, and anyone who supports the establishment of an Arab state west of the Jordan River — whether he or she is an Israeli, an Arab, a European or an American — is only pushing peace further away. As long as Netanyahu continues to recite the two-state solution foolishness, he makes himself complicit in the "bloc" mentality and the above-listed lies. 

Dr. Ron Breiman served as chairman of Professors for a Strong Israel from 2001 to 2005.

Prof. Ron Breiman

Source: http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_opinion.php?id=3087

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

We Know How to Stop School Shootings



by Ann Coulter


 

In the wake of a monstrous crime like a madman’s mass murder of defenseless women and children at the Newtown, Conn., elementary school, the nation’s attention is riveted on what could have been done to prevent such a massacre.

Luckily, some years ago, two famed economists, William Landes at the University of Chicago and John Lott at Yale, conducted a massive study of multiple victim public shootings in the United States between 1977 and 1995 to see how various legal changes affected their frequency and death toll.

Landes and Lott examined many of the very policies being proposed right now in response to the Connecticut massacre: waiting periods and background checks for guns, the death penalty and increased penalties for committing a crime with a gun.

None of these policies had any effect on the frequency of, or carnage from, multiple-victim shootings. (I note that they did not look at reforming our lax mental health laws, presumably because the ACLU is working to keep dangerous nuts on the street in all 50 states.)

Only one public policy has ever been shown to reduce the death rate from such crimes: concealed-carry laws.

Their study controlled for age, sex, race, unemployment, retirement, poverty rates, state population, murder arrest rates, violent crime rates, and on and on.

The effect of concealed-carry laws in deterring mass public shootings was even greater than the impact of such laws on the murder rate generally.

Someone planning to commit a single murder in a concealed-carry state only has to weigh the odds of one person being armed. But a criminal planning to commit murder in a public place has to worry that anyone in the entire area might have a gun.

You will notice that most multiple-victim shootings occur in “gun-free zones” — even within states that have concealed-carry laws: public schools, churches, Sikh temples, post offices, the movie theater where James Holmes committed mass murder, and the Portland, Ore., mall where a nut starting gunning down shoppers a few weeks ago.

Guns were banned in all these places. Mass killers may be crazy, but they’re not stupid.
If the deterrent effect of concealed-carry laws seems surprising to you, that’s because the media hide stories of armed citizens stopping mass shooters. At the Portland shooting, for example, no explanation was given for the amazing fact that the assailant managed to kill only two people in the mall during the busy Christmas season.

It turns out, concealed-carry-holder Nick Meli hadn’t noticed that the mall was a gun-free zone. He pointed his (otherwise legal) gun at the shooter as he paused to reload, and the next shot was the attempted mass murderer killing himself. (Meli aimed, but didn’t shoot, because there were bystanders behind the shooter.)

In a nonsense “study” going around the Internet right now, Mother Jones magazine claims to have produced its own study of all public shootings in the last 30 years and concludes: “In not a single case was the killing stopped by a civilian using a gun.”

This will come as a shock to people who know something about the subject.

The magazine reaches its conclusion by simply excluding all cases where an armed civilian stopped the shooter: They looked only at public shootings where four or more people were killed, i.e., the ones where the shooter wasn’t stopped.

If we care about reducing the number of people killed in mass shootings, shouldn’t we pay particular attention to the cases where the aspiring mass murderer was prevented from getting off more than a couple rounds?

It would be like testing the effectiveness of weed killers, but refusing to consider any cases where the weeds died.

In addition to the Portland mall case, here are a few more examples excluded by the Mother Jones’ methodology:

– Mayan Palace Theater, San Antonio, Texas, this week: Jesus Manuel Garcia shoots at a movie theater, a police car and bystanders from the nearby China Garden restaurant; as he enters the movie theater, guns blazing, an armed off-duty cop shoots Garcia four times, stopping the attack. Total dead: Zero.

– Winnemucca, Nev., 2008: Ernesto Villagomez opens fire in a crowded restaurant; concealed carry permit-holder shoots him dead. Total dead: Two. (I’m excluding the shooters’ deaths in these examples.)

– Appalachian School of Law, 2002: Crazed immigrant shoots the dean and a professor, then begins shooting students; as he goes for more ammunition, two armed students point their guns at him, allowing a third to tackle him. Total dead: Three.

– Santee, Calif., 2001: Student begins shooting his classmates — as well as the “trained campus supervisor”; an off-duty cop who happened to be bringing his daughter to school that day points his gun at the shooter, holding him until more police arrive. Total dead: Two.

– Pearl High School, Mississippi, 1997: After shooting several people at his high school, student heads for the junior high school; assistant principal Joel Myrick retrieves a .45 pistol from his car and points it at the gunman’s head, ending the murder spree. Total dead: Two.

– Edinboro, Pa., 1998: A student shoots up a junior high school dance being held at a restaurant; restaurant owner pulls out his shotgun and stops the gunman. Total dead: One.

By contrast, the shootings in gun-free zones invariably result in far higher casualty figures — Sikh temple, Oak Creek, Wis. (six dead); Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Va. (32 dead); Columbine High School, Columbine, Colo. (12 dead); Amish school, Lancaster County, Pa. (five little girls killed); public school, Craighead County, Ark. (five killed, including four little girls).

All these took place in gun-free zones, resulting in lots of people getting killed — and thereby warranting inclusion in the Mother Jones study.

If what we care about is saving the lives of innocent human beings by reducing the number of mass public shootings and the deaths they cause, only one policy has ever been shown to work: concealed-carry laws. On the other hand, if what we care about is self-indulgent grandstanding, and to hell with dozens of innocent children being murdered in cold blood, try the other policies.

Ann Coulter

Source: http://frontpagemag.com/2012/ann-coulter/we-know-how-to-stop-school-shootings/

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

What Is Behind Salam Fayyad's Call for "Economic Intifada"?



by Khaled Abu Toameh

Instead of seeking way to solve the financial crisis, Fayyad chose to call on Palestinians to boycott all Israeli goods. He is hoping that by calling for an economic intifada, he will succeed in diverting the anger and frustration on the Palestinian street outward to Israel. This has always been the Palestinian Authority's way of avoiding responsibility for anything that goes wrong — by putting all the blame on Israel.
Salam Fayyad, the prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, this week called for an economic intifada against Israel.

Fayyad, whose government is facing a severe financial crisis, wants Palestinians to boycott all Israeli goods in response to Israel's decision to seize tax revenues belonging to the Palestinian Authority.

The revenues were seized and transferred to the Israel Electric Company to cover Palestinians' debts to the firm.

Fayyad is angry because the Israel Electric Company finally collected its debts from Palestinian consumers. Speaking to Palestinian reporters in Ramallah, he denounced the transfer of the funds to the company as "illegal and immoral."

Fayyad knows better than anyone else that, for various reasons, many Palestinians have not been paying their electricity bills.

Many Palestinians refuse to pay water, electricity and other bills because they believe the international community, primarily the Americans and Europeans, should be covering all their expenses. Others refuse to pay because they believe the money eventually falls into the hands of corrupt Palestinian Authority officials.

Earlier this year, the Palestinian Authority announced a series of measures to persuade Palestinian consumers to pay their electricity bills, but to no avail. The Palestinian Authority even announced a new law that allows it to imprison any Palestinian who is caught practicing the widespread phenomenon of "electricity theft."

Because of the financial crisis, Fayyad's government has also failed to pay full salaries to its employees, sparking a two-day general strike of the public sector in the West Bank.
The transfer of funds to the Israel Electric Company, and the Arab world's failure to fulfill promises to support the Palestinian Authority financially, have created a severe financial crisis in the Palestinian Authority.

This is not the first time that Arab countries lie to Palestinians. Over the past two decades, Arab nations have promised the Palestinians billions of dollars in aid. But, according to officials in Ramallah, the Palestinians have received less than 10% of what they had been promised.

Instead of seeking ways to solve the crisis, however, Fayyad chose to call on Palestinians to boycott all Israeli goods. How does that help solve the financial crisis? Fayyad did not have an answer. He just wants to punish Israel for collecting on the debt for the electricity bills.

He is hoping that by calling for an economic intifada, he will succeed in diverting growing anger and frustration on the Palestinian street towards the Israelis. This has always been the Palestinian Authority's way of avoiding responsibility for anything that goes wrong -- by putting all the blame on Israel.

Fayyad wants Palestinians to boycott Israel, but at the same time is unable to provide them with better alternatives. Does he really think that Palestinians will stop buying Israeli-manufactured medicine, for example?

As one Palestinian public servant asked, "How can our prime minister ask us to boycott Israeli goods when we can't even afford to purchase Palestinian goods because he's not paying us our salaries?"

Added another Palestinian who has been working as a school teacher for 25 years: "If Fayyad wants us to boycott Israel, why doesn't he himself set an example? Why is he living in Jerusalem, under Israeli rule, and enjoying, together with his family, most privileges offered to Israeli citizens? Today, I'm ready to go and work in an Israeli settlement to feed my children and I don't care whether Fayyad likes it or not."

Khaled Abu Toameh

Source: http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/3508/economic-intifada

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

U.S. Policy is Making Syria into an Anti-Western, Antisemitic Islamist State



by Barry Rubin


In his article “The Revolt of Islam in Syria” (Jerusalem Post, December 12), Jonathan Spyer — senior fellow at the GLORIA Center — points out compelling information about the new Western-backed leadership in Syria.

The bottom line: if this is Syria’s new government, then Syria now has an Islamist regime.
This is happening with the knowledge and collaboration of the Obama administration and a number of European governments. It is a catastrophe, and one that’s taking place due to the deliberate decisions of President Barack Obama and other Western leaders. Even if one rationalizes the Islamist takeover in Egypt as due to internal events, this one is U.S.-made.

As Spyer points out, U.S. and European policy can be summarized as follows:
To align with and strengthen Muslim Brotherhood-associated elements, while painting Salafi forces as the sole real Islamist danger. At the same time, secular forces are ignored or brushed aside.
The new regime, recognized by the United States and most European countries as the legitimate leadership of the Syrian people, is the Syrian National Coalition, which has also established a military council.

Spyer’s detailed evidence for these arguments — much of which comes from raw wire service reports, for which praise is due to Reuters in this case — is undeniable. And if we know about these things, there is no doubt that the highest level of the U.S. government does as well.

Why is this happening? Because Obama and others believe that they can moderate the Muslim Brotherhood and this will tame the Salafists, despite massive evidence to the contrary. This is going to be the biggest foreign policy blunder of the last century, and the cost for it will be high. It should be stressed: such a strategy is totally unnecessary; the alternatives have been ignored; and the real moderates are being betrayed.

Here is some of the proof for these assertions:

– “The founder of the Free Syrian Army, former Syrian Air Force Colonel Riad Asaad, is notably absent [from the leadership].  General Mustafa al-Sheikh, the first of his rank to defect to the rebels, is also not there. Sheikh is known for his fierce opposition to the Muslim Brotherhood. Hussein Haj Ali, the highest ranking officer to defect so far, was similarly absent.” These men are all anti-Islamists.

– “A Reuters report on the new joint military council calculated that the Muslim Brotherhood and their allies account for about two-thirds of the 263 men who met in Antalya and formed the new body. Salafi commanders are also there.” In other words, the Islamists will get the overwhelming share of weapons provided under U.S. sponsorship, Turkish oversight, and Qatari and Saudi financing. And the United States has not objected to the arming of Salafist super-extremists as long as they aren’t affiliated to al-Qaeda.

– “The new council is headed by Brigadier Selim Idriss, who is described as a non-ideological military man. But his deputies, Abdel-basset Tawil of Idleb and Abdel-Qader Saleh of Aleppo governate are associated with the Salafi trend.” In other words, there’s a non-Islamist front man for what will be an Islamist-controlled army.

– “The domination by the Muslim Brotherhood of the new military council mirrors the movement’s leading position in the new civilian leadership body — the Syrian National Coalition. The leader of this coalition is Ahmed Mouaz al-Khatib, former Imam of the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus.
“Khatib is closely associated with the Damascus Branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. The leader of the new coalition has a long history of anti-Semitic, anti-Western, and anti-Shia remarks. (He praised Saddam Hussein, for example, for “terrifying the Jews” and wrote an article asking if Facebook was an “American-Israeli intelligence website.”) He is also an admirer of the Qatar-based Muslim Brotherhood preacher Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi.

– “Within the body headed by Khatib, the Muslim Brotherhood dominated Syrian National Council controls around 27 of the 65 seats on the executive body of the new coalition. There are also Islamists and fellow travelers among the non-SNC delegates. The Brotherhood is by far the best organized single body within the coalition. One secular delegate at the first full meeting of the coalition accused the MB of `pushing more of its hawks into the coalition, although it already has half of the seats.’”
Let me add two other points:

– The U.S. government backed the previous opposition “leadership,” the Syrian National Council, which was formed as a result of American initiative operating through Islamist Turkey. The fact that this council had a Muslim Brotherhood majority in the leadership did not deter the Obama administration from proclaiming it to be the address for support. Only when the council had clearly failed — and despite the fact that months earlier several moderates had resigned complaining about Brotherhood domination — did the U.S. government change strategy to organizing a new, yet also Muslim Brotherhood-dominated group.

– American intelligence agents in southern Turkey supervise the handover of weapons to the rebels. They make no attempt to stop arms from going to the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists while they make no attempt to funnel the guns to moderates. The only restriction is that they not go to al-Qaeda-affiliated Salafists.

One day, those guns will be used to commit unspeakable atrocities against Christians and other minority groups just as they will be used to install an Islamist regime and to kill or intimidate its opponents.

How has the United States handled this threat?

Well, it declared one Salafi group off-limits, because it is linked to al-Qaeda. That’s it.
As Spyer points out, there has been and still is an alternative: for the West to back non-Islamist leaders, including liberals, Arab nationalists, and Kurdish nationalist forces. Such a strategy was not pursued either in Egypt or in Tunisia.

So when Syria gets an anti-Western, anti-Semitic, and anti-democratic (aside from holding elections) regime, don’t be surprised. You can read it in the surprised and grudging admissions of the Western mass media a year or two after this regime takes power, or you can know about it right now.

This outcome might have been inevitable anyway — but I don’t think that’s true. A vigorous policy of supplying non- and anti-Islamist forces while doing nothing to help the Brotherhood and Salafist militias, plus the formation of a non-Islamist dominated political grouping that would receive Western aid could have produced a very different result.

But Western policy, and especially Obama administration policy, is now putting into power yet another anti-Western regime that will oppress its own people and put a high priority on trying to wipe out Israel.

This article was originally published on PJMedia.

Barry Rubin

Source: http://www.gloria-center.org/2012/12/proof-of-a-scandal-u-s-policy-is-making-syria-into-an-anti-western-antisemitic-islamist-state/

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Jewish Dems Fail to Speak Up on Hagel



by Jonathan S. Tobin


Today’s Washington Post editorial opposing the nomination of Chuck Hagel as defense secretary should provide encouragement for those seeking to derail the appointment. The Post rightly pointed out that Hagel’s positions on defense spending and stopping Iran’s nuclear program “fall well to the left of those pursued by Mr. Obama during his first term — and place him near the fringe of the Senate that would be asked to confirm him.” The Post is right about that, but that is exactly why the talk about Hagel is raising alarms among those who fear that a second Obama administration will not follow through on the promises made by the president during his first term, with specific attention to his pledge to stop Iran from developing a nuclear capability.

However, those expecting that pro-Israel Jewish Democrats will be leading the charge to stop the appointment of a man who is a prominent critic of the Jewish state as well as of its American supporters are probably going to be disappointed. As this article published today in the Hill demonstrates, the unwillingness of influential Democrats like Dianne Feinstein and Carl Levin to oppose Hagel shows that any campaign against the nomination may be an uphill slog. Combined with the natural reluctance of many senators to oppose a former colleague and friend, the inability of Hagel’s foes to get prominent Jewish Democrats to take a stand may ensure his victory.


Though the headline in the Hill spoke of Jewish Democrats being “divided” on Hagel, the only senator they quoted as opposing him was Joe Lieberman, who is an independent and is leaving the Senate this month anyway. While Ben Cardin and Richard Blumenthal took no position, their silence as well as the no-show attitude of the National Jewish Democratic Council has turned the debate into one between Jewish conservatives like the Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol and the Republican Jewish Coalition and supporters of Hagel like Peter Beinart, Joe Klein and J Street.

Of course, the reason why Klein and Beinart are so enthusiastic about Hagel illustrates why the pro-Israel community is so upset about the prospect of his running the Pentagon. His antagonism to Israel has never been a secret and the left hopes he will fulfill their fantasies about a second Obama administration putting the screws to Israel about the Palestinians. They also like his lack of interest in taking on Iran or even threatening the use of force to bring Tehran to its senses about its drive for nuclear weapons. Open supporters of Iran such as the Campaign against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran feel the same way.

While Klein has written about AIPAC beginning to use its muscle to stop Hagel, any such effort will require Democrats to put up or shut up about their party and president being stalwart supporters of the Jewish state. Simply put, a Hagel nomination is incompatible with any idea that this administration or the Democratic Party can be viewed as reliable allies of Israel. It will be up to people like Cardin and Blumenthal and the NJDC to speak up about Hagel in the coming weeks for that pledge to have any real meaning.

Jonathan S. Tobin

Source: http://www.commentarymagazine.com/2012/12/19/jewish-democrats-fail-to-speak-up-on-chuckhagel/

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Benghazi Report Makes Clear Clinton’s Failure–and Obama’s



by Seth Mandel


Since the terrorist attack in Benghazi killed our ambassador there and three others, I’ve been asking just how Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has managed to avoid accountability for what was clearly her State Department’s failure. Others have begun asking that same question, including former Clinton administration official Aaron David Miller. Miller offered a few possible answers, one of which was that her expected run for the presidency in 2016–which is already in motion–has convinced the Washington establishment to stay on her good side.

Miller was asking the question in the context of the strangely effusive praise she has been receiving for her work as secretary of state, even though she has been surely unremarkable–and that was before the debacle in Benghazi (and, I would add, Foggy Bottom’s failure with regard to the Palestinians’ unilateral declaration of statehood at the UN). It’s possible that Miller is right–that most people don’t actually believe what they’re saying about Clinton, but are simply speaking flattery to power. But yesterday’s release of the inquiry into Benghazi should inspire at least some honesty about Clinton’s manifest failure there. It also explains why Republicans have latched on to Benghazi with such force: as the report shows, the tragedy in Benghazi was evidence of the failure of the Obama administration’s approach to foreign policy across the administration.

As the report makes clear, there is a serious management problem at the State Department:
Communication, cooperation, and coordination among Washington, Tripoli, and Benghazi functioned collegially at the working-level but were constrained by a lack of transparency, responsiveness, and leadership at the senior levels. Among various Department bureaus and personnel in the field, there appeared to be very real confusion over who, ultimately, was responsible and empowered to make decisions based on both policy and security considerations.
The report also knocks the State Department for not responding appropriately to requests for more security in Libya, and for needing those requests in the first place. The report wonders why the State Department’s decision makers didn’t understand the situation on the ground, and goes on to name 20 separate instances of violence or attempted violence against foreign missions and NGOs in the six months leading up to the attack on the American mission in Benghazi.

So Clinton was detached and ill-informed about the mission to an inexcusable degree. But President Obama himself shares some of the blame. After all, as the report notes, Libya was in a state of lawlessness for a reason:
It is worth noting that the events above took place against a general backdrop of political violence, assassinations targeting former regime officials, lawlessness, and an overarching absence of central government authority in eastern Libya. While the June 6 IED at the SMC and the May ICRC attack were claimed by the same group, none of the remaining attacks were viewed in Tripoli and Benghazi as linked or having common perpetrators, which were not viewed as linked or having common perpetrators. This also tempered reactions in Washington. Furthermore, the Board believes that the longer a post is exposed to continuing high levels of violence the more it comes to consider security incidents which might otherwise provoke a reaction as normal, thus raising the threshold for an incident to cause a reassessment of risk and mission continuation. This was true for both people on the ground serving in Libya and in Washington.
Behold the product of “leading from behind,” the Obama administration’s light-touch approach to foreign intervention. The Libya mission left a decapitated country in the midst of civil war descending into anarchy ruled by gang-led violence. The Obama administration chose to wash its hands of the ordeal when Muammar Gaddafi was gone. It was into this chaos that Clinton sent our ambassador with insufficient protection.

The report also finds fault with the intelligence establishment, though former CIA Director David Petraeus has already resigned and thus won’t be held doubly responsible for what happened. Max has also noted the confused and clumsy military response to the attack as well.

The harsh Republican response to Benghazi, then, was not just about Susan Rice and her talking points (though that was an issue for them as well, certainly), but about the broader strategic and management failures across all relevant departments of the Obama administration, and the pitfalls of the “leading from behind” strategy of military engagement.

Seth Mandel

Source: http://www.commentarymagazine.com/2012/12/19/benghazi-report-makes-clear-clintons-failure-and-obamas/

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IAF: Concern over Hezbollah Attempts to Insert UAVs into Israel



by Or Heller

The IAF concludes 2012, states that there is concern of the use of UAVs for terrorism purposes. IAF Commander Eshel refused to comment regarding the row of explosions in Hezbollah's warehouses, only saying that "it's dangerous to sleep with rockets"
Major General Amir Eshel, IAF Commander (Photo: IDF Spokesperson)  
Major General Amir Eshel, IAF Commander 
(Photo: IDF Spokesperson)

The Israeli Air Force concluded the year 2012, and stated that the greatest concern is of increased attempts by Hezbollah to attain accomplishments by inserting unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) into Israeli territory. According to the IAF, Hezbollah is encouraged by the successful entry of its UAV into Israeli territory during the past October, and senior IAF officers said that up to 50 kilograms of explosives can be loaded onto a UAV which would serve as a precise rocket.


IAF Commander Major General Amir Eshel refused to say whether the IDF or the air force were connected to the series of explosions in Hezbollah's weapon warehouses which occurred recently, and said that "it's dangerous to sleep with rockets at home - whatever happens, happens.”


Eshel also discussed the accomplishments of operation Pillar of Defense last month in the Gaza Strip. “The operation achieved accomplishments that are being studied throughout the region. This is a red light or a warning to anyone that attempts to operate,” Eshel said. “However, we must not rest on our laurels.”


He added that “The IAF will be put to much more difficult tests than what was presented in Pillar of Defense. The enemy will utilize more force, and we will use more force.” With regards to the issue of whether or not deterrence was attained at the end of the operation, Eshel said that "deterrence is a difficult term to classify. Deterrence can be examined in retrospect, and it is difficult to examine it while looking onwards. According to senior officers, it is possible to win and beat the other side considerably, but there will be no white flag, and the last rocket fire will be theirs.


As to the Iranian challenge, a senior IAF officer said that "We are responsible for ensuring that the saying "all the options are on the table" has validity, and we have very good capabilities with regards to Iran."


Eshel also referred to the issue of the deteriorating standing of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. "Syria's process of disintegration is an existing fact. It’s in our back yard. There are stockpiles of advanced weapons there, including unconventional capabilities. I don’t know what will be on the day after. Beyond the questions, we have as key role to play and it is to deal with the unconventional weapons. This is an issue for Israel, one that stands before the decision-makers, and it is a very complex issue.”


Or Heller

Source:http://www.israeldefense.com/?CategoryID=483&ArticleID=1844

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Press TV's Obscene Anti-Semitism



by IPT News


Iran's Press TV scored an international scoop Tuesday. It turns out, it reports, the massacre of 20 schoolchildren and six of their teachers and administrators was not the work of a troubled loner. Rather, it was Israeli death squads exacting vengeance over a recent United Nations General Assembly vote granting Palestine nonmember observer status.

In a time of national grieving unmatched since the 9/11 attacks, the Iranian government's English-language news outlet used the opportunity to promote vile anti-Semitic conspiracies so extreme that not even the most strident Islamists have offered anything close to them.

The claim came from Michael Harris, who was one of three panelists in a discussion about the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. While the other panelists focused on a culture of violence in America, or the issue of gun laws, Harris unleashed a torrent of Jew hatred.
"Hollywood is Jewish owned and Jewish controlled and they spew filth and they spew violence out," he said. Jews are the ones pushing for gun control. Jews control Congress.



"And now here we go, here's a revenge killing in the U.S., sponsored by Israel, that killed all these innocent children," Harris said. "And that is something that Israelis do very, very well. They target the innocent, they target children, they target women and they avoid the issue. Because they're angry they didn't get their way and now Palestine has standing in the U.N. and Israel is going to be subject to the International Criminal Court and their leadership is going to be taken to task. So let's connect the dots here about what's going on globally, geo-politically with Israel involved."

While the other two guests dismissed Harris' theories, saying Israel had nothing to do with Newtown and tried to steer the conversation back to the brutal killing, the Press TV hostess never pushed back. A video of the segment shows Harris spoke longer than the others during the 25-minute segment and was given the last word.

The United States considers Iran the world's leading state-sponsor of international terrorism. But that fact hasn't stopped American Islamists, led by officials from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) from repeatedly appearing on Press TV programs to bash American policy or culture. It might be different if they tried to speak truth to power, criticizing Iran for its terror support or repression of its own people.

But instead, they have blamed America for Muslim riots over the Internet video mocking Mohammed last fall. They have cast America as being at war with Islam, a message considered to be one of the most potent tools in recruiting Muslims to violent jihad, and likened America's treatment of Muslims to the way Jews were treated in Nazi Germany. Examples go on and on.

They grant legitimacy to a broadcast outlet pushing conspiracy theories like a modern Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

Press TV followed up the Newtown panel discussion by publishing a story on Harris' theory on its website. "Israeli death squads involved in Sandy Hook bloodbath: Intelligence analyst," the headline blares. It describes Harris as "a former Republican candidate for governor of Arizona and GOP campaign finance chairman."

The Press TV article asserts Israel staged the attack "to teach America a lesson, knowing that America would take the punishment, keep 'quiet,' and let a 'fall guy' take the blame."

If the publishing of cartoons and Internet videos depicting the Muslim prophet Muhammad can spark riots and killings throughout the world, what does a blood libel like the Sandy Hook conspiracy theory do to Muslim attitudes toward Jews?

Blaming Zionists and blaming Jews for problems large and small is a reflex action in parts of the Middle East, including claims Jews were behind the 9/11 attacks. Hamas instills it in young children. Islamists in Egypt blamed Jews for a New Year's Eve 2011 bombing at a Coptic church that killed 21 people, a message echoed by Press TV.

The article on the Newtown shooting was written by Gordon Duff, identified as "a Marine Vietnam veteran, a combat infantryman, and Senior Editor at Veterans Today." Harris also writes for Veterans Today, including articles defending David Duke as "a shining example of western freedom and democracy."

Another article details his suspicions that Jews, what he calls "organized jewery" was behind Jared Loughner's shooting attack in Tucson that wounded U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and killed six people, including U.S. District Judge John Roll.

"My point here is: will organized jewery, the Neo-Pharisees that comprise the unelected criminal shadow government sacrifice an asset like Congresswoman Giffords to advance their bigger agenda?? You bet they will. The criminals who took down the WTC and the Murrah Building in Oklahoma, will eagerly sacrifice a pawn to pass stricter gun control measures and dis-arm the US population. The armed US population is the biggest obstacle that still exists for the shadow government of the Neo-Pharisees to fully implement a totalitarian state here in the USA, just like they destroyed Czarist Russia and created the Soviet Union, they work day and night to impose that same hell on the citizens of the USA."

Press TV officials should have been aware of Harris' views before they invited him on the air and let him unleash his empty conspiracy theories and hate rhetoric.

Duff's Press TV article says Harris points to "the flood of inconsistencies in the 'cover story.'" But those amount to a series of unanswered questions about alleged accomplices and unsourced claims that police gunned down the shooter, Adam Lanza, after he tried to surrender.

"After Harris' broadcast, key members of the military and law enforcement community contacted Veterans Today in full support of Harris' analysis," Duff writes.

"One three star general is quoted as saying, 'Harris hit the nail right on the head and it is about time someone spoke up.'"

What other proof is needed? In the broadcast interview, Harris predicted a grand cover-up by Congress, which he said is owned by Zionists. The absence of proof, therefore, is his proof.
"So any truth of this, if there's going to be, is going to be hidden because Israel wants it hidden because they are once again the guilty party," Harris said. "You have to realize, Israel has been operating death squads in the United States now since Gabby Giffords and Judge Roll were shot in Tucson. There's been other incidences. The Aurora, Colorado shooting that was, again, Israeli death squads operating in the U.S."

Fellow panelist Raynard Jackson, a Washington-based political consultant, called Harris' comments "irresponsible." A third panelist, Don Debar, said that the United States is the "pre-eminent imperial power in the history of the planet." As such, it controls Israel "although there is some backwash in the Congress and other places."

Given the last word, Harris went off on another rant, condemning American drone strikes abroad, which, "again," he said, "it goes back to Israeli influence in U.S. foreign policy." If he had not done so in the previous 20 minutes, he made it clear that he and Iran are on the same page.



"And I am very much anti Israel. I want Israel off the face of the earth. They are the source of all problems in the Middle East. They are the original terrorists. And do not forget that this killing in Newton (sic) was a revenge killing because Israel lost the vote about Palestine being recognized in the U.N. That's all it's about. It happens every time. It's Israelis acting out, throwing a fit in extracting revenge upon the United States.

"That's exactly what it is. And I'm tired of the kid gloves with Israel. It's time to go bare knuckles with them. Let's go."

The Newtown massacre united the country in grief. Press TV allowed Harris to use the tragedy to sow hatred and nonsense. If not for the horrible nature of the subject, it might have been taken as performance art, mocking the crazed and illogical nature of bigotry. Instead, it's a clear definition of what Press TV seeks to accomplish. American Islamists, and those who work with them, should consider this the next time Press TV calls.

IPT News

Source: http://www.investigativeproject.org/3859/press-tv-obscene-anti-semitism

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

Nitsana Darshan-Leitner to IMRA on Collection of Judgment Against Syria



by IMRA

From: Dr. Aaron Lerner Subject: $338 Million Courtroom Victory Against Syria To: Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, Esq.

Many ask me if there is any way you will see a penny from this judgment (see below).  Can you comment?

Reply from: Nitsana Darshan-Leitner

We have a great number of leads on Syrian government assets we are hoping to put into action.

In addition, if the US is recognizing the Syrian opposition (whoever that is) and Assad might fall and the State Dept. is going to be seeking to de-list Syria as an outlaw regime that supports terror then we, and the small group of other Syrian judgment holders, will try to insist that the new regime be compelled to pay off the judgment debts of the previous regime as Libya was forced to do.

We sincerely believe that Syrian judgment holders will see at least their compensatory damages.

==============================

Shurat HaDin Wins $338M Judgment Against Syria Over Kidnapping of Americans by Kurdish Terrorists

Washington, DC, December 17, 2012: A Tel-Aviv based law center has represented two families of American citizens in their successful $338 million lawsuit against the government of Syria. The decision, handed down today in the United States district court for Washington D.C., found that the government of Syria was responsible for providing material support and resources to the Kurdish Workers Party ("PKK"), a terrorist organization designated by the United States State Department.

Chief District Court Judge Royce Lamberth ruled that Syria was vicariously liable for the PKK's 1991 kidnapping of a group of American biblical archeologists leading an excavation in Turkey. The Americans, who were searching to discover the location of the remains of the biblical Noah's Ark, were held hostage for 21 days before they finally were able to escape.

The families were represented by attorneys Robert Tolchin of New York and Nitsana Darshan-Leitner of Tel-Aviv. Darshan-Leitner is the director of the Shurat HaDin Law Center. The Court awarded the families $38 million dollars in compensatory damages and levied a $300 million punitive damages award against the Syrian government as well.

Marvin Wilson and the family of the deceased Ronald Wyatt brought the lawsuit against Syria alleging that Damascus had allowed the PKK to operate from Syrian territory, and provided financial support and training to the terrorist group. The civil action sought both compensation and punitive damages from Syria.

Marvin Wilson, one of the kidnapped Americans, stressed: "The news we received today of a successful ruling against Syria for their support of the PKK during the time of our 1991 kidnapping in Turkey was extremely exciting! After 12 years of anticipating that justice would be served, I hope this ruling will serve notice and be a deterrent to others that there is a penalty for complicity in taking American citizens as hostages. We truly appreciate the dedication and resolve given by the Shurat HaDin - Israel Law Center in litigating our case.”

Mary Nell Lee, the wife of the late Ronald Wyatt, added: “I am so very grateful that the judge recognized the effects this kidnapping had on our families. Each of our lives was changed in ways that have continued until this day. My prayer is that all those who have suffered at the hands of terrorists, receive compensation such as we have been awarded. While it cannot erase the memories of the event, it can provide each person a sense of justice and closure. Hopefully, it will have an effect on the countries involved in supporting terrorist organizations and help them learn that they cannot get away with such horrendous behavior.”

In Sept. 1991, Wilson and Wyatt traveled to Turkey as part of an archeological project to excavate a site near Mount Ararat, where according to the Old Testament, Noah’s Ark is believed to have finally found land. Shortly after traveling near the Syrian border the Americans, along with others, were taken hostage by armed gunmen. For the next 21 days the captives were subjected to brutal treatment, forced 18 hour marches and repeatedly assaulted by their PKK captors. The terrorists made ransom demands to the Turkish and American governments.

In July 2001, plaintiffs filed a complaint against Syria pursuant to the Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act’s terrorism exception, 28 U.S.C. § 1605A in the U.S. district court in Washington D.C.

In today’s ruling, the Court wrote that: “the brutal character of the kidnapping in this case, the significant harm it caused both the hostage plaintiffs and their families, along with Syria’s demonstrated and well known policy to encourage terrorism all merit an award of punitive damages.”

According to Darshan-Leitner: “This is a groundbreaking ruling which finds that Syria was responsible for the crimes perpetrated by the PKK terror organization it sponsors. This ruling also points to an underlying fact: the free world will no longer stand idle while international crimes are committed and it will fight against those rogue regimes which support these heinous acts. Above all, the court found that this kidnapping was brutal and heinous, and involved threats of execution, torture, as well as marches through mountains and dense forests. It is therefore fitting that compensation should be in the millions not in the tens of thousands. These days Syria continues to commit crimes against those who oppose the regime, and Syria will pay.”

Tolchin added: “Although the events that gave rise to this judgment took place a number of years ago, it is remarkable how little things have changed. Syria is still playing a proxy game creating terror, instability and mayhem via the PKK and Hizbollah. Hopefully with this judgment Syria will come to realize that there are financial consequences for its actions, while at the same time bringing some measure of comfort to the Wyatt and Wilson families for their ordeal.”

The case is called Mary Nell Wyatt v. Syrian Arab Republic. Civil No. 08-502 (RCL)

A copy of the district court opinion
http://www.scribd.com/doc/117153791/Wyatt-v-Syrian-Arab-Republic-Opinion

A copy of the district court judgment
http://www.scribd.com/doc/117153787/Wyatt-v-Syrian-Arab-Republic-Judgment

For more information: Nitsana Darshan-Leitner media@israellawcenter.org 011-972-3-751-4175
----

Shurat HaDin - Israel Law Center 10 Hata'as St., Ramat Gan 52512 ISRAEL Phone: 972-3-7514175 Fax: 972-3-7514174 US line: 212-591-0073

Website: http://www.israellawcenter.org
Blog: http://israellawcenter.wordpress.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ShuratHaDin


IMRA

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