politinfo

Trying to make sense of a meshuga planet

Wishful thinking about Hamas

Today, the CSMonitor says: Hamas bends to pressure in Gaza and abroad by Rafael D. Frankel. According to the author, since “Rockets no longer fly into Israel from the Gaza Strip. And Gaza’s Islamist rulers saw their support base drop below 20 percent…”, this somehow means that Hamas “bends”.

Let’s consider an opposite idea: Hamas is having trouble exactly because of its unbending stance: none of their genocidal goals, antisemitic charter, uncompromising Jihadist stance, terrorist methods or totalitarian grip has changed a bit. Their position did not change even as little as to share power with their Fatah brothers, whose leadership still refuses to recognize Israel.

BTW, this particular “news piece” very often gets floated in the Western media. Recently, Jimmy Carter announced that now Hamas can be trusted, even though Hamas stridently rejected his pleas. Earlier, SFChron and other outlets cooked up a sudden “shift” in Hamas’ position (exposed by the ADL). It seems that each time when Hamas handlers put out the magic word, it gets uncritically accepted by the Western media as an evidence of their salvation and enlightenment.

RELATED:
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Obama’s administration seeks a way to fund Hamas
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What about all the good Arabs/Muslims?

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July 10, 2009 Posted by | Arab-Israeli Conflict | , | 1 Comment

Jewish rights in the proposed Palestinian state

By now, there are numerous examples of Jews being mistreated and ostracized in Arab/Muslim countries and not a single one to the contrary. Of course, Fayyad knows what words must be uttered in order to charm a gullible Western audience – especially one that really wants to be charmed. For a sober reality check, Benny Morris has very recently debunked this fantasy.

I hope it never comes to this, but I wonder: if an Arab state gets established in Judea and Samaria and some Jews would want to keep living in places where Jews lived continuously for some 3,200 years, why shouldn’t they be able to create a Jewish state of their own?

Fayyad Promises Rights for Jews in PA State by Maayana Miskin (IsraelNN.com)

During an appearance Saturday in Aspen, Colorado, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad promised that Jews who choose to live in a future Palestinian Authority-led Arab state in Judea and Samaria will be granted equal rights. His statements stood in contrast to the PA’s current policies regarding Jewish residents of the region.

“The kind of state that we want to have, that we aspire to have, is one that would definitely espouse high values of tolerance, co-existence, mutual respect and deference to all cultures, religions,” Fayyad said in response to a question about the possibility for a Jewish minority to remain among residents of a PA Arab state.

Jews who remain in Judea and Samaria if Israel withdraws “will enjoy these rights and certainly will not enjoy any less rights that Israeli Arabs enjoy now in the state of Israel,” he added.

The promise of equal rights came in response to a question from former CIA Director James Woolsey, who asked if Israeli Jews who chose to live in Judea and Samaria would be given the rights granted to Arab citizens of Israel. Among those rights are the right to vote, freedom of worship, free speech, “and most importantly, be able to go to sleep at night without worrying someone is going to kick down the door and kill them,” according to Woolsey.

Fayyad’s statements in favor of co-existence and equality sharply contradict current PA policy regarding Jews in Judea and Samaria. The PA considers all Jewish communities in the area to be illegal, and has demanded that all be dismantled and their residents removed from the region.

PA law makes selling property to a Jew an offense punishable by death. Arabs who assist Israel in thwarting terrorist attacks are often put to death as well. PA terrorists who succeed in murdering Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria are lauded by PA leaders, and they and their families are given financial support.

SEE ALSO
Fayad: Jews welcome in our future state

July 7, 2009 Posted by | Arab-Israeli Conflict | | 1 Comment

The “two-stage solution” vs. the “two-state solution”

An excellent analysis of Ehud Olmert’s insane offer of 2008 and its rejection by the “moderate” PLO. Obviously, he was desperate to end his term as a peacemaker and not as a crook. Intentionally or not, it demonstrated – again – that the goal of Israel’s “peace partner” is the destruction of the Jewish state: The secret of failure by Ze’ev B. Begin (JPost)


Never had conditions been so conducive to the attainment of a permanent solution between the government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority as in 2008. The Oslo agreements were defined from the outset as interim, and the blame for the failure of the permanent-status negotiations in 2000 could be put on Yasser Arafat, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate who never changed his spots. However, in 2008 negotiations were held between PLO leaders known to be very moderate and an Israeli government known for its readiness to walk an extra mile on the road to peace. Indeed, Hamas took over Gaza in June 2007, but even this did not divert the negotiators from their goal; the decision was to try to reach an agreement between Israel and the PLO and to then shelve it until it was ripe for execution.

The Washington Post on May 25 reported that according to PLO Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), prime minister Olmert accepted the principle of the “right of return” for Arab refugees and offered to resettle thousands in Israel. Abbas also said that Olmert offered him 97% of Judea and Samaria (after Israel had already withdrawn from Gaza in 2005). In addition, last week Newsweek reported that Olmert had told them that he proposed that Israel would give up its sovereignty in the “Holy Basin” in Jerusalem and
suggested that it be jointly administered by Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the PLO, Israel and the United States; this was confirmed by PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat.

Why, then, didn’t the moderate PLO leadership embrace such an extreme Israeli offer? The answer given by Abbas to The Washington Post surprised many: “The gaps were wide.”

THE TRUTH IS, of course, that nothing more can be done on the part of Israel. Unintentionally, Olmert took the veil of moderation off the face of the PLO. When the claim is raised that the PLO would actually suffice itself with a symbolic gesture concerning the thorny refugee issue, its refusal to accept Olmert’s proposals proves that the PLO truly intends to apply the “right of return” of refugees to their original homes in Haifa and in Jaffa, in Lod and Beersheba. PLO leader Ahmed Qureia (Abu Ala) explained lately to Haaretz that “it’s not fair to demand that we recognize you [Israel] as the state of the Jewish people because that means… a predetermination of the refugees’ future, before the negotiations are over. Our refusal is adamant.” To prevent misunderstanding, Mahmoud Abbas, in his Washington Post interview, rejected the possibility that the PLO recognizes Israel as a Jewish state because it would imply renunciation of any large-scale resettlement of refugees.

Although the Arab Peace Initiative includes two articles explicitly dealing with the “right of return,” it should be recognized that the resettlement of refugees in Israel is not the goal but the instrument. All signs indicate that the goal is the cancelation of Israel as a sovereign state in Palestine, and that this is the source of the PLO’s adamant refusal to accept Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people. Hence, even Israel’s withdrawal to the 1949 armistice demarcation line – even that which runs through Jerusalem – and even its agreement to assume responsibility for the plight of the refugees and resettle thousands of them in Israel, will not bring about the termination of the struggle, but will rather lead to the next chapter of prolonged hostility.

The real dispute does not concern the natural growth of Ariel (in Samaria) but the natural right of the Jewish people to sovereignty in Carmiel (in the Galilee).

THIS IS not a futile theological debate but a practical and vital issue. Its severe significance was proven last year, when in the course of talks PLO negotiators were explicitly asked whether, after an agreement is reached to their satisfaction, they would agree to include in it a specific article stating that this puts an end to the dispute and terminates all further claims. The government did not bring to the public’s attention the fact that to this simple question, the PLO leadership ominously answered in the negative.

The necessary conclusion therefore is that the moderate organization for the liberation of Palestine from Jewish sovereignty is not interested in the “two- state solution” but rather in a “two-stage solution.” In the first stage, an Arab state is to be established alongside Israel and in the second stage, following the resettlement of refugees within Israel, one Arab state is to be established, stretching from the Jordan river to the Mediterranean Sea.

In an attempt to test this conclusion to the utmost and to refute it, Israeli governments have resorted to all possible political experiments. All excuses have by now been used up. In other words, as a mechanism for establishing permanent peace west of the Jordan River, the “two-state solution” cannot be realized. There will be no end to this dismal hundred-years dispute so long as the position of the Arab leadership in Samaria, Judea and Gaza does not fundamentally change.

July 6, 2009 Posted by | Arab-Israeli Conflict | , | Leave a comment

The White House lied about the US-Israel agreements of 2004

I already wrote about this irrational and cruel demand imposed on Israel by the Obama administration, reneging on the previous agreements. The more facts get denied, the more evidence gets exposed – including by those who directly participated in the talks, from both sides and from different political perspectives.

There was a Bush Agreement on Settlements by Steve Rosen (ME Forum)

Secretary of State Clinton denied on Friday (June 5) that the George W. Bush Administration left to its successors a set of understandings with the government of Israel about limited growth of settlements.

Elliot Abrams, who represented the Bush White House in those agreements, confirmed their existence to the Washington Post on May 24: “There was something of an understanding realized on these questions, but it was never a written agreement… At the time of the Gaza withdrawal, there were lengthy discussions about how settlement activity might be constrained, and in fact it was constrained in the later part of the Sharon years and the Olmert years in accordance with the ideas that were discussed.” Abrams wrote in an op ed piece in the Post on April 8, “For the past five years, Israel’s government has largely adhered to guidelines that were discussed with the United States but never formally adopted: that there would be …no new construction except in already built-up areas. The clear purpose of the guidelines? To allow for settlement growth in ways that minimized the impact on Palestinians. Israel has largely, but not fully, kept to those rules.”

And Dov Weissglass, who represented Sharon in the negotiations, has provided a detailed account of the negotiations and the agreements. He wrote in Yediot Ahronot on June 2, that in a “‘separate forum’ convened on May 1, 2003 in Jerusalem. Senior administration officials Steven Hadley and Elliott Abrams met with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and me, and, over the next two days succeeded in working out an exact definition of the term “settlement freeze” in the Road Map. According to this definition, …(3) construction within the settlements would be confined to ‘the existing construction line.’ …On a further meeting held with Ms. Rice on May 14, 2003, the agreement on the definition of the term ‘freeze’ was confirmed…The drawing of the existing construction line- the area in which construction is permitted- encountered technical difficulties. It was therefore decided to establish a joint American-Israeli team that would examine, mark, and delineate the construction line around each of the existing settlements. The team, however, was never created, though not because of any fundamental disagreement….On April 13, 2004 [these understandings were included in] a letter that I wrote with the full consent and in the name of Prime Minister Sharon, and sent to National Security Advisor Rice. Among other things the letter said ‘in the framework of the agreed principles on settlement activity, we will shortly make an effort to better delineate the settlement construction line in Judea and Samaria…’ There was no doubt, therefore, that on April 14, 2004- the day that President Bush sent his letter to Prime Minister Sharon- the administration recognized Israel’s right under the Road Map to development from within the existing construction line in the Israeli settlements in Judea, Samaria and Gaza.

Below is additional evidence of the agreements from the article I posted on January 28, “Obama and a Settlements Freeze.”

On April 18, 2004, Sharon’s aide Dov Weissglas asserted, in a letter to Rice, “the following understanding, which had been reached between us: 1. Restrictions on settlement growth: within the agreed principles of settlement activities, an effort will be made in the next few days to have a better definition of the construction line of settlements in Judea & Samaria. An Israeli team, in conjunction with Ambassador Kurtzer, will review aerial photos of settlements and will jointly define the construction line of each of the settlements.”

The Government of Israel quickly acted to enforce the distinction. On August 5, 2004, a settler newspaper reported that, “The Defense Ministry has completed a large-scale project to mark the existing built-up borders of all the Jewish communities and towns in Judea and Samaria – and no further construction will be allowed beyond them. Yediot Aharonot reports today that aerial photos will be sent to the United States, which will monitor every building aberration. Though the towns will be allowed to appeal the decision, every building beyond the marked borders could be subject to immediate demolition. The above program is in accordance with the commitment Prime Minister Sharon gave U.S. President George Bush three months ago.”

The Bush Administration was reluctant to acknowledge publicly that it had arrived at such an understanding with the Government of Israel, but there were several public indications that it had. The New York Times’ Steve Weisman reported on August 21, 2004, “The Bush administration…has modified its policy and signaled approval of growth in at least some Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, American and Israeli officials say…The administration now supports construction of new apartments in areas already built up in some settlements, as long as the expansion does not extend outward…according to the officials.” The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler reported on October 30, 2004 that, “during an interview with Egyptian television [in September 2004], Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage mused openly about a definition of natural growth. ‘If you have settlements that already exist and you put more people into them but don’t expand the physical, sort of, the area — that might be one thing,’ he said. ‘But if the physical area expands and encroaches, and it takes more of Palestinian land, well, this is another.'” The Post added that “a senior administration official told reporters at a briefing that the purpose of a settlement freeze is to make sure additional settlers would not impede Palestinian life or prevent the formation of a viable Palestinian state. It makes no difference, he said, if the Israelis add another house within a block of existing homes.” And the Post added that Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said the administration was negotiating with Israel over whether its settlements in the West Bank can grow within existing settlement boundaries.

While the Administration’s background statements and the absence of denials implied that the Israeli assertions that there was an agreement were accurate, the Administration never quite said so in a clear way. But no denial was issued after August 21, 2004, when a front page story in the New York Times story appeared under the headline “U.S. Now Said to Support Growth for Some West Bank Settlements”, claiming loudly that such an agreement existed. Nor was there any correction after the Guardian published an article headlined, “Secret US Deal Wrecks Road Map for Peace” on August 27, 2004, reporting that “The United States was accused this week by Palestinian leaders of …giving its covert support to Israel’s expansion of controversial settlements in the West Bank. American officials are privately admitting they have…given Jerusalem tacit permission to build thousands of new homes on the disputed land…A European diplomat said this week, ‘The US has tacitly agreed that [Israel’s] position has validity and has shown that limited building is permissible.'”

There were some carefully parsed partial denials nearly four years later, when Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post revisited the issue on April 24, 2008. But Kessler also reported an on-the-record confirmation from Daniel Kurtzer, then the U.S. Ambassador to Israel, who said he had argued at the time against accepting the April 2004 Weissglas letter that asserted there was a U.S.-Israel understanding on the construction line concept. Kurtzer told the Post, “I thought it was a really bad idea. It would legitimize the settlements.” Kurtzer said that, in the end, the White House did not send the team to define the construction lines, “when it became clear it would not be easy to do.” It appears that, as an alternative, the Israeli Ministry of Defense provided the United States with aerial photographs marking the construction line of each settlement (reported by Yediot Aharonot on August 5, 2004.)

SEE ALSO
Abrams: Israel is right that there were settlement agreements by Steve Rosen (ME Forum)

July 5, 2009 Posted by | Arab-Israeli Conflict, US foreign policy | , | Leave a comment

Real obstacles to peace: intransigence and irresponsibility

A good new video by Ben Cohen (AJC): Israel and the Palestinians: “No” is the Real Obstacle to Peace

As always brilliant, Barry Rubin analyzes the same subject: Israel Offers a Peace Plan that can Work. Why do the Palestinians Oppose It? Because they don’t want a peace plan that would work (RubinReports)
I recommend the entire thing, here’s a couple of excerpts:

Israel has put forward a serious peace plan which deserves international support from anyone serious about solving the Israeli-Palestinian and Arab-Israeli conflict.

This program should be quite uncontroversial and represents what Israel needs to get to justify taking risks, making concessions, and believing the result will be a real, lasting peace.

Why, then, is this plan so unacceptable to the Palestinian leadership? Supposedly, Palestinians are so victimized by “occupation” and eager to have their own state of their own that this would be a small price to pay.

Israel’s narrative is clear: Jews want and merit a state; the conflict is due to Arab refusal to accept that state’s existence. But if Palestinians accept Israel as a Jewish state, there’s no bar to a two-state solution. This Israeli narrative doesn’t block a two- state solution.

In contrast, the Palestinian narrative is that Jews have no right to a state and all the land is Palestinian, Arab, and (for most) Muslim. This Palestinian narrative prevents a two-state solution since the conflict could only be settled not by Palestine’s creation but by Israel’s extinction.

By feeding the PA’s false belief that the West will press Israel into giving them a state without restrictions, Palestinian concessions, or even PA implementation of past promises, Western governments help sabotage any chance for peace. Instead, they should think seriously about supporting Israel’s moderate, workable peace plan.

July 2, 2009 Posted by | Arab-Israeli Conflict | Leave a comment

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