politinfo

Trying to make sense of a meshuga planet

Road to failure is paved with unrealistic expectations

1. The number of Jewish births.

Briefing by Special Envoy for Middle East Peace George Mitchell on His Recent Travel to the Region and Efforts Toward Achieving A Comprehensive Peace?

Q: Can you give us a definition of what the United States considers natural growth?
Mitchell: “One of the issues is that there is no universally used and accepted definition. The most common definition is by the number of births, but there are many variations of that. I’ve had numerous discussions with many Israeli and other officials, and there are almost as many definitions as there are people speaking. But I think the most commonly used measure is the number of births.”

Note, this unrealistic, irrational and sickeningly cruel demand applies to Jews alone. I concur with Jack Engelhard’s assessment in his Obama’s ‘Jewish Experts’ (IsraelNN):


Even the language is disturbing. Mitchell – top Middle East envoy along with Clinton – explained that the controversy centered on “the number of Jewish births.” Where have we heard this before? To my mind, as someone who was born under similar conditions, in France under Vichy, where Jews were kept within “restricted zones,” this sounds too much like Verboten!

2. A demilitarized state.

Demilitarized Palestinian State? Once upon a time, there was such a state. by Prof. MK Arieh Eldad (IsraelNN)


“Two States for Two Nations” has become holy dogma and anyone who challenges its validity is suspected of blasphemy.

But even if we assume that Netanyahu wished to speak in terms acceptable to Europe and the United States, rather than to fight a battle which he considered lost, still it would have been better had he not deceived his listeners with the scam known as “a demilitarized state.”

When I heard the speech, my initial reaction was: “There ain’t no such animal.” Of course, I don’t mean nano-states such as Andorra or the Vatican, which have themselves chosen not to maintain an army. There is no real state in the world defined as a demilitarized state. And Netanyahu did not make do with a misleading general statement, he went into details: the state won’t have missiles and rockets and planes, and will not be able to sign treaties.

The more I listened to this and said to myself that there is no such thing, I was reminded of something quite bothersome. Was there once such a state? And then one of my friends reminded me there had been.

“It will be forbidden to Germany to maintain or build fortifications… in this territory (West of the Rhine)…. It is forbidden for Germany to maintain an army…. the German army will not include more than seven infantry divisions…. It is forbidden for Germany to import or export tanks or any other military hardware…. The German naval forces will be limited and are not to include submarines. The armed forces of Germany will not include any air forces…. In the political realm, Germany is forbidden to enter into any treaty with Austria.”

So it was written and sealed in the Treaty of Versailles. The treaty was signed on June 28, 1919, as part of the Paris Peace Conference following the First World War. Essentially, Germany became a demilitarized state and was also limited from a political perspective.

So what happened? Did the “demilitarized” status prevent the Second World War and, worst of all, the destruction of European Jewry?

The lesson being that there is no political power that can prevent a sovereign state from doing whatever it wants. Netanyahu knows that if ever a Palestinian state should, Heaven forbid, be established, Israel will not be able to declare war on it if it should choose, for instance, to sign an international tourism agreement with Cyprus or a transfer-of-technology agreement with Iran. If pipes are manufactured in Tulkarm, Israel will not be able to start a war that can be justified in the eyes of the world if steel cutters turn the pipes into Kassam rockets. Since nothing other than Israeli force could possibly preserve demilitarization, Netanyahu is deceiving the people of Israel and promising them something that cannot be delivered.

But all of the above is not the main thing. The main thing is that Netanyahu has recognized the right of Arabs to establish a sovereign state in our homeland. None of his conditions and reservations can hide this abomination. Whoever recognizes the right of his enemy to establish a state in his homeland has abandoned all principle and all that is left to do is argue over the price. Whoever has left his religion and changed his faith cannot insist on observing the commandments of what is no longer his faith. Whoever has abandoned his patrimony has no basis on which to insist on continuing to build on its lands.

Also, modern weapons become increasingly miniature, but if your goal is to terrorize your neighbors, your weapons don’t even need to be that modern. Post-2005 Gaza Strip is a good example. Let’s keep in mind that, to his credit, Bibi did not utter the word “sovereign”. But with today’s trend to renege on yesterday’s agreements and creep-in additional demands, does it matter?

June 26, 2009 Posted by | Arab-Israeli Conflict | | 1 Comment

Khaled Abu Toameh: How to help the Palestinians

An excerpt from another great piece by Khaled Abu Toameh. Unfortunately, for many people “pro-Palestinian” necessarily means “anti-Israel” and vice versa. In my experience, two kinds of people usually make such mistakes:
1) uneducated (of whom surprisingly large number are reporters, editors and politicians), and
2) malicious, who often know how to manipulate the first kind.
Unfortunately, when subject turns to the Middle East, often emotions take priority to facts.

How To Help the Palestinians by Khaled Abu Toameh (Hudson NY)

The leaders of the Palestinian Authority do not want the international community to hear anything about massive abuse of human rights and intimidation of journalists that its security forces are practicing almost on a daily basis in the West Bank.

They want the US and the rest of the world to continue believing that peace will prevail tomorrow morning only if Israel stops construction in the settlements and removes a number of empty caravans from remote and isolated hilltops in the West Bank.

The Palestinians do not need a dictatorship that harasses and terrorizes journalists, and that is responsible for the death of detainees in its prisons. In the Arab world we already have enough dictatorships.

The Palestinians do not need additional security forces, militias and armed gangs. In fact, there are too many of them, both in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

American and European taxpayers’ money should be invested in building hospitals, schools and housing projects. Investing billions of dollars in training thousands of policemen and establishing new security forces and prisons will not advance the cause of peace and coexistence.

There is no doubt that many Palestinians would love to abandon the culture of uniform and weapons in favor of improved infrastructure and medical care.

As for the international media, it’s time to abandon the policy of double standards in covering the Israeli-Arab conflict. For many years, the mainstream media in the US and Europe turned a blind eye to stories about financial corruption under Yasser Arafat. The result was that Arafat and his cronies got away with stealing billions of dollars that had been donated to the Palestinians by the Americans and Europeans.

Back then, many foreign journalists said they believed that the stories about financial corruption in the Palestinian areas were “Zionist propaganda.” Other journalists said they would rather file an anti-Israel story because this way they would become more popular with their editors and publishers.

Recently, a Palestinian TV crew was stopped at a checkpoint in the West Bank, where soldiers confiscated a tape and erased its content.

This incident, hardly received any coverage in the mainstream media in the US and Europe.

The reason? The perpetrators were not IDF soldiers, but Palestinian Authority security officers. And the checkpoint did not belong to the IDF; it was, in fact, a Palestinian checkpoint.

The story of the detention of the TV crew — which, by the way, belonged to Al-Jazeera and the erasure of the footage did not make it to the mainstream media even after Reporters Without Borders, an organization that defends journalists worldwide, issued a statement strongly condemning the assault on the freedom of the media.

“Journalists must be able to work freely,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The erasure of this video footage proves that the Palestinian security forces try to cover up their human rights violations. This incident should be the subject of an enquiry by the Palestinian Authority.”

Walid Omari, the head of the Qatar-based satellite TV station’s operations in the West Bank, told Reporters Without Borders that his crew was preparing a report on the death of a detainee at the Palestinian Authority detention center in Hebron that might have been the result of torture.

“We were the only ones to investigate this case and we did it despite strong pressure from the Palestinian Authority,” Omari said.

Al Jazeera’s Hebron correspondent went with a cameraman to the victim’s home in the village of Dura, where they interviewed the family and filmed the body.

As they were returning to Hebron in a vehicle displaying the word “Press,” they were detained by Palestinian Authority security forces at a checkpoint and taken to a police station, where the video footage they had just recorded was erased. They were allowed to go after an hour.

One can only imagine the international media’s reaction had the TV crew been detained by Israeli security forces. Anti-Israel groups and individuals would have cited the incident as further proof of the “occupation’s brutal measures” against the freedom of the media.

Moreover, it is highly likely that Israeli human rights organizations like Betselem would have dispatched researchers to the field to investigate the incident had IDF soldiers been involved.

Yet foreign journalists and human rights activists working in Israel and the Palestinian territories either chose to ignore the story or never heard about it simply because it was lacking in an anti-Israel angle.

One can also imagine how the media and human rights organizations would have reacted had a Palestinian died in Israeli prison after allegedly being tortured.

RELATED
Pro-Palestinian vs. anti-Israel
Pro-Palestinian vs. anti-Israel (US campus redux)

June 26, 2009 Posted by | Palestinians | , , | Leave a comment

Hitchens on Iranian “culture of rumor and paranoia”

I am not a huge fan of Christopher Hitchens, but here he makes a good point and provides a sensible advice to the Obama administration. Maybe a tiny bit of paranoia is healthy, but history shows that societies obsessed with conspiracy theories (exacerbated by hatred) are dangerously insecure and unstable.

Persian Paranoia. Iranian leaders will always believe Anglo-Saxons are plotting against them by Christopher Hitchens (Slate)


One of the signs of Iran’s underdevelopment is the culture of rumor and paranoia that attributes all ills to the manipulation of various demons and satans. And, of course, the long and rich history of British imperial intervention in Persia does provide some support for the notion. But you have no idea how deep is the primitive belief that it is the Anglo-Saxons—more than the CIA, more even than the Jews—who are the puppet masters of everything that happens in Iran.

… the Obama administration [should] be aware that nothing will stop the theocrats from slandering you for interfering anyway. Also try to bear in mind that one day you will have to face the young Iranian democrats who risked their all in the battle and explain to them just what you were doing when they were being beaten and gassed. (Hint: Don’t make your sole reference to Iranian dictatorship an allusion to a British-organized coup in 1953; the mullahs think that it proves their main point, and this generation has more immediate enemies to confront.)

There is then the larger question of the Iranian theocracy and its continual, arrogant intervention in our affairs: its export of violence and cruelty and lies to Lebanon and Palestine and Iraq and its unashamed defiance of the United Nations, the European Union, and the International Atomic Energy Agency on the nontrivial matter of nuclear weapons. I am sure that I was as impressed as anybody by our president’s decision to quote Martin Luther King—rather late in the week—on the arc of justice and the way in which it eventually bends. It was just that in a time of crisis and urgency he was citing the wrong King text (the right one is to be found in the “Letter From a Birmingham Jail”), and it was also as if he were speaking as the president of Iceland or Uruguay rather than as president of these United States. Coexistence with a nuclearized, fascistic theocracy in Iran is impossible even in the short run. The mullahs understand this with perfect clarity. Why can’t we?

June 25, 2009 Posted by | Iran | , , | Leave a comment

Decades overdue, Odessa gets Holocaust museum

A century ago the city had the third largest Jewish population in the world (after NYC and Warsaw). From what I hear, these days it is a pale shadow of itself. If you know nothing of old Odessa, read “The Odessa Tales” by Isaac Babel.

Odessa Holocaust museum dedicated

The Odessa Holocaust Museum was dedicated in a special ceremony.

About 3 million Jews in the former Soviet Union were murdered by the Nazis during World War II, including some 247,000 Jews — 22,000 children — in Odessa and the surrounding region.

Imagine if all these people had a safe haven to escape to…

June 24, 2009 Posted by | History | , | Leave a comment

Western hi-tech helps Iranian regime monitor and censor dissent

Ironically, the technology used to filter out child porn and other inappropriate content is used by totalitarian regimes to censor dissent and keep an eye on dissidents. It’s a shame that “intelligence solutions” for the Iranian oppressive regime are readily provided by the West.

Iran’s Web Spying Aided By Western Technology by Christopher Rhoads and Loretta Chao (WSJ)

The Iranian regime has developed, with the assistance of European telecommunications companies, one of the world’s most sophisticated mechanisms for controlling and censoring the Internet, allowing it to examine the content of individual online communications on a massive scale.
… in confronting the political turmoil that has consumed the country this past week, the Iranian government appears to be engaging in a practice often called deep packet inspection, which enables authorities to not only block communication but to monitor it to gather information about individuals, as well as alter it for disinformation purposes, according to these experts.

The monitoring capability was provided, at least in part, by a joint venture of Siemens AG, the German conglomerate, and Nokia Corp., the Finnish cellphone company, in the second half of 2008, Ben Roome, a spokesman for the joint venture, confirmed.

All eyes have been on the Internet amid the crisis in Iran, and government attempts to crack down on information. The infiltration of Iranian online traffic could explain why the government has allowed the Internet to continue to function — and also why it has been running at such slow speeds in the days since the results of the presidential vote spurred unrest.

In the 2005 presidential election, the government shut down the Internet for hours, blaming it on a cyberattack from abroad, a claim that proved false, according to several Tehran engineers.

Nokia Siemens Networks provided equipment to Iran last year under the internationally recognized concept of “lawful intercept,” said Mr. Roome. That relates to intercepting data for the purposes of combating terrorism, child pornography, drug trafficking and other criminal activities carried out online, a capability that most if not all telecom companies have, he said.

The monitoring center that Nokia Siemens Networks sold to Iran was described in a company brochure as allowing “the monitoring and interception of all types of voice and data communication on all networks.” The joint venture exited the business that included the monitoring equipment, what it called “intelligence solutions,” at the end of March, by selling it to Perusa Partners Fund 1 LP…

June 24, 2009 Posted by | Iran | , , | Leave a comment

The US advice on Kashmir is lunacy

Got this from a friend. A revealing view on new utopia-based US foreign policy, this time unrelated to the Middle East, but is relevant nonetheless, because it is instructive on the mindset: The US advice on Kashmir is lunacy by M J Akbar (Times of India)

If you want to sell arsenic, the kindest way to do so is to disguise it as medicine heavily coated with sugar. There is nothing particularly new about the proposal of an interim balm for the wounds of Kashmir, demilitarization on both sides of the Line of Control. What is novel is the heavy Washington endorsement of this Pakistan-promoted option.

Self-interest may have blinded Washington to an obvious fallacy in this “reasonable” formulation. In all three major Kashmir conflicts – 1947, 1965 and Kargil – Pakistan has used a two-tier strategy. A surrogate force has served as a first line of offense. The Pakistani term for them has been consistent; they have come in the guise of “freedom fighters”. India called them “raiders” in 1947 and 1965, and defines them as terrorists now. This surrogate force has expanded its operations far beyond Kashmir, as the terrorist attacks on Mumbai confirmed.

DMZs (De-Militarized Zones) would guarantee the security of Pakistan and weaken India’s defences, since there is no suggestion that terrorist militias are going to be “demilitarized”. Should the Indian army leave the Kashmir valley to the mercy of well-organized, finely-trained, generously-financed indiscriminate organisations? India has no corresponding surrogate force, because it is a status-quo power; it makes no claims on any neighbour’s territory.

If America wants a DMZ (De-Militarized Zone) in India they will first have to ensure a DTZ (De-Terrorised Zone) in Pakistan.

India and Pakistan may have a common problem in terrorism, but they do not have terrorists in common. Those who have inflicted havoc already in India, and those who intend to do so in future, are safe in their havens in Lahore and Multan and Karachi.

June 21, 2009 Posted by | US foreign policy | , , | Leave a comment

Jihad for kids: “Birds of Paradise”

Remember Umm Nidal, a proud Palestinian mother (Mother From Hell – Robert Spencer), who sent 3 of her 6 sons to die (while murdering Israelis) and for that was honored by getting elected into Palestinian Legislative Council?

The same “culture” now brings the grateful humanity this: “Birds of Paradise” – Martyrdom Recruitment as Children’s Entertainment (IPT News)

The little girl’s dark brown eyes look heavenward as she sings,

When we seek martyrdom, we go to heaven.
You tell us we’re small, but from this way of life we have become big.
Without Palestine, what does childhood mean?

This is not a song from Hamas television in Gaza, nor is it a Hizballah anthem. “When We Seek Martyrdom” is the latest hit from a production house called Birds of Paradise.

My country and my blood are like its sands
Without Palestine, what does childhood mean?

Youtube has dozens of editions and edits of the video, ranging from Arab parents having their children parrot the lyrics to Jihadists using it as background music in terrorist videos. “[Birds of Paradise] is one of the most widely distributed children’s songs group in the Arab world, and it seems to have crossed the ocean to Canada and Britain,” wrote journalist Fawzia Nasir al-Naeem in the Saudi Arabian newspaper, Al-Jazirah.

“When We Seek Martyrdom” encourages children not simply to throw rocks, but to carry out militant attacks and to ambush Jews. It even broadcasts clips of the children carrying out practice attacks. Violence is not only the answer for children, but it is framed in a cute, kid-friendly way.

The Effect of Training Preschoolers in Hate

The message of the video is directed at toddlers up to elementary school ages, the precise period of a child’s life where they tend to copy educational materials as mental facts. Kids of these ages cannot process issues which contain subtleties and nuances. Thus, the material imprints itself into their memory as a part of ‘what is normal,’ said child psychologist Joan Lachkar. “Smaller children cannot organize the data of experience into concrete and abstract categories, as opposed to older children who possess abstract thought and wider varieties of mental decision making. This video is particularly dangerous in the shame/honor system of the martyrdom ideology, because it represses the child’s ability for freedom of thought, individuality, and creative thinking,” Lackhar said. “This society is teaching its youngest children that peace is linked to the destruction of non-believers and that violence is an acceptable and even preferred method of self-expression.”

The psychological effects of such encouragement are profound, even in at an age where the complexities of the message are not fully grasped, Lachkar said.

Children in the ‘martyrdom culture’ become robotic and clone-like, so much so that they are compelled not to express genuine emotions or any sense of vulnerability,” she said. If they do so, they are shamed and punished. On the other hand, if they conform to the cultural standards set for them, they believe that they are good and that they will be loved.” This system of violence becomes self-reinforcing and it is more difficult to break the hate which is connected to the children’s earliest childhood memories.

The emphasis is mine. Maybe I am not “progressive” enough, but cultural equivalence and moral relativism just don’t work for me. If a culture does not promote individual freedoms, personal growth and creativity among kids, it is inadequate. If it turns its own children into suicidal robotic drones ready for mass murder and imperial conquests, it is perniciously sick. Any chance of protest from the UNESCO?

June 21, 2009 Posted by | Islamism | , , , | 2 Comments

Robert Baer on the post-election riots in Iran (as the nukes draw near)

Robert Baer has an interesting insight on the recent Iranian elections and the ongoing riots: Don’t Assume Ahmadinejad Really Lost (TIME)


The absolute worst things we could do at this point would be to declare Iran’s election fraudulent, refuse to talk to the regime and pile on more sanctions. Hostility will only strengthen Ahmadinejad and encourage the hard-liners and secret police. We should never forget that Iran’s spiritual leader, Ayatullah Khameinei, along with Ahmadinejad, have the full, if undeclared, backing of both the Revolutionary Guards and the army, and they are not afraid to use those resources to back up their mandate.

I can only add that totalitarian dictatorships know to lift the lid off the boiling cauldron – meanwhile keeping the watch – only to step up repressions later.

UPDATE
While the Rev. Guard deals with street demos, the regime keeps the grip on what they consider important: Iranian Envoy: We are Seeking Nuclear Weapons

Soltanieh said Iran has the right to develop nuclear weapons.
Iran’s envoy to the United Nations’ atomic watchdog said Wednesday that his country has the right to build nuclear weapons, Agence France Presse reported. “The whole Iranian nation are united. on [the] inalienable right of [having a] nuclear weapon,” Ali Asghar Soltanieh said, in an apparent departure from the country’s usual refrain that it is only pursuing nuclear energy for civilian purposes. The International Atomic Energy Agency noted in a recent report that it could no longer “provide credible assurance[s]” that Tehran was not diverting nuclear material for use in a nuclear weapons program. In addition, the report warned that Tehran has sped up its production of nuclear fuel and has increased its number of installed centrifuges to 7,200-more than enough to make fuel for two nuclear bombs per year.

June 18, 2009 Posted by | Iran | , | Leave a comment

Quiz: International humanitarian law during war time

A tricky and interesting quiz. (Hat tip: Solomonia)

12 multiple-choice questions.

June 18, 2009 Posted by | Law | | Leave a comment

Hamas loves Jimmy Carter

Jimmy Carter smiles (FOX News)

Jimmy Carter smiles (FOX News)

Carter, Targeted by Islamic Terrorists in Gaza, Calls to Remove Hamas from U.S. Terror List (FOX)

Former President Jimmy Carter will urge the Obama administration to remove Hamas from the terrorist list, FOX News has learned.

In order to show their usefulness, Hamas thugs performed a theatrical ploy, defusing a couple of roadside bombs on a path Carter’s convoy:

The boy told FOX News he saw three Palestinian men planting bombs, four of which were later found near a mound less than a mile from the Israel-Gaza border. The boy said he notified Hamas police, who detonated the bombs and took the three men into custody.

In addition to his infamous antisemitic book, Carter has the best credentials for a peacemaker: from Hamas.

“Nobody in Gaza will touch this man,” Hamas adviser Ahmed Yousef said. “He is on a noble mission. Everyone here respects him.”

2006 cartoon by Cox & Forkum

2006 cartoon by Cox & Forkum

Eldad on Carter: With Such Friends, Who Needs Enemies? (IsraelNN.com)

National Union MK Aryeh Eldad quipped about former U.S. President Jimmy Carter Monday, “With peacemakers like this, who needs enemies?” Eldad claimed Carter acts as an agent for Arab interests.

“Maybe we could understand why this is so if we remember the large amounts of money former President Carter receives from Arab sources,” Eldad said. He pointed out that Carter considers Hamas to be a legitimately elected governing power.

Ken Blackwell, an advisor to the JINSA, writes in Townhall:


Jimmy Carter, perhaps panting for another Nobel peace prize, is in the Mid-East, planning to meet with others who want to de-stabilize Israel. Hamas—the terrorist gang that controls the Gaza Strip—will roll out the red carpet for the former U.S. President.

Carter calls all Jewish settlement on the West Bank “illegal and [an] obstacle to peace. The Israelis took Carter’s advice on Gaza. They dismantled all their settlements there. They handed over the land to the Palestinians. They followed Carter’s formula of land for peace. And what did they get? Hamas control of Gaza and 6,000 Hamas missiles raining down on Israel. Some deal. Some peace. It might better be called Carter’s “Piece Plan”—handing over territory to Israel’s sworn enemies—piece by piece.

Jimmy Carter has published books and articles likening Israel’s position in the West Bank to that of the apartheid regime in South Africa. He use of apartheid is intended to de-legitimize Israel and bring its downfall—just like the anti-apartheid campaign in the `90s brought an end to the white supremacist regime in South Africa.

Yet what is Carter advocating by freezing the natural growth of Jewish settlement on the West Bank? What Carter is saying, in effect, is that Arabs should be able to continue to live in peace in Tel Aviv, but Jews—and Christians—cannot live in Jericho and Bethlehem. Who’s the real supporter of apartheid?

Carter predicts that President Obama will take the next logical step after he succeeds in freezing Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria: “In the future, I am sure, [Obama] will call for the dismantling of the settlements that exist.”

Question: If Jews cannot live in Judea and Samaria—where Jews have lived since before the Roman Empire—why should they be allowed to live in Tel Aviv? Tel Aviv was founded only in the early 1900s.

The plan to create a Judenrein—a Jew-free zone on the West Bank of the Jordan—is ultimately a plan to de-stabilize and then dismantle the Jewish state. This is not just a change from George W. Bush; it’s a change from Harry Truman!

That’s how far back U.S. support for Israel goes—right to the beginning of the Jewish state in 1948. But no more. The Obama administration will press and push, prod and peck away at Israel’s basic security needs. If Obama succeeds, Israel may not be destroyed, but she will be much weaker, much more vulnerable, much more in danger from enemies pledged to destroy her. Is that the change America wants? Is that the kind of change Americans voted for?

So maybe not all is lost with the Dems?
US: Democratic Party’s Jewish Council denounces Carter

The National Jewish Democratic Council … issued an official censure of former US President Jimmy Carter, after Fox News reported he urged US President Barack Obama to remove Hamas from the US terror-group list.

RELATED
Carter’s shameless tears (YNetNews)

Jimmy Carter – The Prince of Peace? by Sherri Mandell (JPost.com BlogCentral Heart-Earned Wisdom)

June 17, 2009 Posted by | Hamas, US foreign policy | , , , , | 1 Comment