Sunday, 11 December 2011

Segment of Israeli Society Endorses Apartheid

Since 2006, when former US President Jimmy (Dhimmi?) Carter published the most factually accurate book since the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, there has been a continued slander of Israel comparing it to the Apartheid of South Africa.

At long last the issue has been settled. There is a small segment of Israeli society in favour of Apartheid and has been outraged at a plan to increase integration of Arabs and Jews.

In last week’s Haaretz, an article was published entitled “Israel paving road to link East Jerusalem neighborhoods to city center”. And this was followed by the subheading: “New route would link northeast neighborhoods to capital's [sic] main Begin Boulevard; Peace Now: Plan is illegal use of occupied land, endangers two-state solution.”

Now barring for the moment that it is not illegally occupied by Jews, and neither is there a chance of any solution, let alone a two-state solution, let’s go along with Peace Now’s assertions...

If we’re to understand correctly, the extreme leftist Peace Now NGO believes that because, at some point in the future, east and central Jerusalem will be part of two different nations, that there shouldn’t be roads linking them?

This notion is an absurd one. If anything, roads help peace. They are means of communication (ask the Romans). But let’s turn this around for a moment. What if Israel were to demolish all roads out of Gaza; would Peace Now approve of this?

Considering the left deny just how much aid Israel delivers to Gaza each week, and denies that these ‘Palestinians’ are allowed medical treatment inside Israel, Peace Now shouldn’t have a problem in demolishing these roads?

The article continues “Peace Now representatives argue that the "road's current route isn't legal, since the plan designates occupied territory for permanent infrastructures for the occupying power, while completely disregarding the needs of the Palestinian residents in Beit Hanina and the area."”

This is interesting! This is the first time I’ve ever heard that an allegedly undeveloped area would suffer because of increased methods of transportation to more prosperous and industrious areas. Links which could provide more business and trade, a link tourists could easily use (provided the Arab occupiers in Judea & Samaria stop attacking and killing strangers and the non-Muslim indigenous inhabitants).

The real reason the far left doesn’t want these roads built is the same reason the PA dictatorship doesn’t want these roads: to keep the conflict alive. And the main way to do that is via control of (Arab) public opinion1

With all the Nazi-style propaganda broadcast by the PA-controlled media, Mahmud Abbas keeps power by doing what the surrounding Arab dictators want. And that is to keep this fictitious ‘Palestinian’ people fighting and killing Jews. The state of Jordan, which denies these Arab refugees their basic human rights (by not absorbing them as Israel absorbed the 850,000 Jewish refugees ethnically cleansed from Arab lands in 1948), keep the conflict alive.

The thinking behind this "evil Zionist road colonisation" project is that if these ‘Palestinians’ gain access to an easy method of transportation to central Jerusalem (especially from the West Bank), they will come to see the propaganda that they’re fed on a daily basis as wrong, and that Jews and Christians can be trading/business partners, and possibly even human.

This is my best guess. Of course there are major cultural obstacles to such a positive outcome (such as jihad; and killing Jews tends to annoy them, for some reason), and considering that genocidal, slave-capturing Muslims first gained access to Africa via Arab tradesmen (who became useful spies when planning their attacks), one wonders in this instance who has the better idea!, the left or right?! 


Thursday, 22 September 2011

The Endgame

Back in April, I talked about what the Hamas-Fatah coalition deal meant, that essentially Fatah (led by Mahmoud Abbas) had gone to Iran. What was not evident at the time, however, was the strategy Iran had for the territory Abbas presided over.

At the time, the move seemed strange and only advantageous to one side: why would Iran need such a strategically weak partner like Mahmoud Abbas when it's other proxy forces surrounded Israel (in Lebanon and Gaza)? Only now with the headline 'Hamas is against the PA Statehood Bid' have things begun to fall into place.

Hamas flags and portraits of Mahmoud Abbas being waved at the same rally

What has become evident is that the PA's bid at the UN is a last ditch effort to salvage Mahmoud Abbas' PA and 'his' territory from the clutches of Iranian control. Over the last several months we've been reading news such as Hamas flags going up all over the West Bank. While this might seem normal if both factions are in a unity deal, what was clear was that no portraits of Mahmoud Abbas were going up in Hamas-controlled Gaza.

In other words, the Hamas-Fatah unity deal was Mahmoud Abbas' 'death sentence'. Once Abbas had accepted the partnership, he effectively ceded control to Tehran. All Tehran had to do then was sit back and wait for the international community to distance itself from the coalition, thus leaving the PA vulnerable to the influence of Tehran, via Hamas.

With Abbas and his PA isolated, all Iran had to do was to was give Hamas free reign to start spreading its influence in the West Bank, thus not in fact making Abbas stronger, but weaker and more isolated than ever before.

The other side of this power struggle is, of course, the strategic importance of the West Bank. For Hamas, or any other anti-Israel force, having a presence in the West Bank means having 70% of Israel's population centre within short range rocket fire. And even though Hamas and Hezbollah both have rockets that can reach the Israeli population centres from Gaza and southern Lebanon respectively, with Israel's Iron Dome technology largely successful at intercepting rockets, having one more front from which Israel's enemies could harass her would be crucial given the terrorist's reliance on the psychological aspect of their war.

Additionally, it would be less likely that Israel attack Iran if its resources are tied up closer to home.

So Mahmoud Abbas' attempts to have a state recognised will be key in strengthening his hold on power. This will mean that Tehran will be forced to include Abbas in any of its plans.

But as we've been hearing, the US has announced it will veto any statehood bid, thus meaning a Palestinian state is not likely to be created and the US Congress will likely attempt to withdraw funding to the PA. So while this is risky territory for Abbas, we should note that there have been other patrons of the Palestinians, such as the Saudis, most notably during the 2nd intifada. And sure enough, the Saudis have stepped up to attempt to rescue the PA.

Once the statehood vote fails at the Security Council, it is then that the case will move to the UN General Assembly, in which the PA would not be susceptible to a US veto, thus be granted observer status. As we're told this will mean the PA will then have access to other UN bodies such as the International Criminal Court (ICC).

If the continuing fracas over the Goldstone Report is anything to go by, the Israel-Palestine war will likely graduate to a whole new level, and coupled with the international campaign to boycott, divest and sanction Israel (the BDS movement), having arrest warrants from the ICC against Israeli diplomats will serve as one of the biggest propaganda coups in the Muslim world's campaign to excuse terrorism and violence, as well as Islamisation of the West (citing, of course, the West's support for a 'war criminal' Jewish state). And this will be regardless of whether the cases against Israeli officials will have merit or not, as we saw with the recently overturned law in the UK called Universal Jurisdiction.

...and if anyone thinks that the ICC is a legitimate institution, devoid of the influence of the UN, they will be in for a rude awakening.

So if Mahmoud Abbas is able to achieve this reasonable sounding goal, this will not only mean him firmly placing himself at the centre of the 'Palestinian struggle', the Arab and Muslim world will reward him, thus cementing his hold on power. What exactly Abbas, or Tehran (for that matter), have in mind once this process is completed could be anything from the situation laid out above, and/or the continuation of the PLO Phased Plan devised in 1974.

In fact violence in the immediate term seems more than likely to be on the table (as a means to achieve their ultimate goals), with the usual excuses citing either failure at the UN for statehood, or some other pretext as we saw with the 2000 intifada, whether it was Ariel Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount (which was in fact carefully coordinatedwith the PA, not as the PA later claimed the 'provocative act which sparked the 2nd intifada), or the forgery that was the al-Dura Affair.

But this is only where we come to the much larger forces at play here in this complex story...

Quite interestingly, this sudden flurry of activity in the Middle East can be traced back to one single event in 2010. Barack Obama's UN General Assembley speech, when he stated that by September 2011 there would be a Palestinian State. What has occurred since then has been nothing short of amazing: WikiLeaks, PaliLeaks, the Arab Spring, the acceleration by Turkish PM, Tayyip Erdogan, of souring relations with Israel, and the announcement that colossal gas and oil reserves have been discovered off the coast of Israel; and the war in Libya under the UN doctrine of R2P (Responsibility 2 Protect).

Further to Turkey souring relations with Israel, Turkey's PM Tayyip Erdogan, is also vying to champion the Palestinian's cause as part of his increasingly bellicose statements regarding reviving the Ottoman empire.

So we have Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, the old Middle Eastern enemies attempting to fight it out over a politically important piece of real estate. These are the 1400 year old rivalries of the Middle East, not only between sunni and shia, but between the more recent Wahabis and the Ottomans (who once controlled the Islamic holy cities of Mecca and Medina).

The Bigger Picture

So why are 3 of the biggest Islamic states fighting it out for control of such a small territory? Israel seems to be almost irrelevant in all this. We know that the Palestinian cause is very popular in the Arab and Muslim world. And we have seen in the past how the war with Israel has been used many times by terrorists or dictators to either distract a disgruntled population from uprising, or to manipulate a populous against a leadership, as we're seeing in Egypt and Jordan as the Muslim Brotherhood attempt to win support there, or with Erdogan attempting to rally support for his cause.

But even though the Palestinian cause has never been far away from Arab dictator sound bites, effective support on the ground has always been lacking. As we saw in Lebanon in 1982, these same dictatorships were happy to see Israel expel Yasser Arafat from Lebanon to Tunis. Compare that to the Saudis funding(with the CIA) to the mujahadin in Afghanistan against the Soviets in the same decade, which amounted to $1 billion.

Although Israel would be the icing on this particular Islamic cake, neither the Palestinian issue, nor the Israeli 'problem' are the main issue. The importance of this territory is in its political value. This is the reason the Muslim Brotherhood was founded: the re-establishment of the Caliphate, which was abolished during World War I and which Arabs today say they want to have situated at al-Aqsa Mosque in the heart of Jerusalem...

Having a Caliphate would be a significant game-changer in world affairs and history.

This is a video of one of the earliest radical Islamic groups, Hizb Ut-Tahrir, in a rally on the Temple Mount, Jerusalem (note the black flags, these are a declaration of war - jihad)

So the charge to be either the leader of the newly created Palestinian state, or patron of its cause, will have historic significance. This is the culmination of almost a century's worth of work, in what seems to be the next phase of a global quest by radical Islam for world hegemony, the central battle of which will be in the very heart of Israel.

So goes Israel. So goes the rest of the world.



"Senior Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahar said Thursday that if the international community will recognize the Palestinian state as a member of the United Nation, the Palestinians will no longer be able to fight against Israel." 


This is due to one aspect I did not cover in my piece: that regardless of whether 'Palestine' becomes a country or elevated to observer status in the General Assembly, the ICC requirements will also be placed on the Palestinians, not just Israel. Therefore Israel will also be able to bring the PA and Hamas before the ICC; a much more worrying prospect for Hamas. (David Benjamin at The Weekly Standard has more on this.)

As hopeful as this sounds, we cannot be too optimistic. Iran has sidelined Hamas in the past in favour of other, more difficult to trace terrorist groups to do its dirty work. Additionally, we have not seen any prosecutions of Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia or even Iraq (under Saddam) for sponsoring Hezbollah, Hamas, al Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood, PLO (Palestine Liberation Organisation) etc.

The problems in these instances was not the law, but political interests interfering with the law (such as oil). And if the Palestinian state becomes an outpost of the Saudi oil giant, no need to guess what that will mean.

Friday, 29 April 2011

Another One Bites the Dust

With the announcement that Hamas and the Palestinian Authority (PA) are to merge, calls in the US to cease funding the PA have begun to be addressed. However, what seems to have slipped everyone's attention in all this is the elephant in the room. The elephant that increasingly occupies much else in the Middle East...

The PA chairman, Mahmoud Abbas, cannot have failed to comprehend the US response to such a move. In the not too distant future, we are told that a Palestinian State is to be declared (most likely September). For years, Hamas - the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood - has been at the throat of the more secular PA, after the PA refused to cede to Hamas in a landslide election defeat in the Palestinian territories in 2006.

Following the elections, a short but intense civil war broke out between the two factions in Gaza in which Hamas took control. Fatah, led by the PA maintained control of the West Bank. Fatah is the only 'non-terrorist' group declared in this rivalry, a position it has obtained due to its involvement in the fruitless Oslo Accords with Israel in 1993. However, Fatah's hold on power following the 2006 elections would seem to have made it an unlawful presence (much to the chagrin of the US and Israel). But the US and Israel were loathed to acknowledge this fact, not only because their horse, Fatah, had lost the elections, but due to the power and backing of Hamas, by Iran; the current Strong Horsein the region.

Following the declaration of a Palestinian State, it would not be hard to imagine that if the PA and Hamas were still rivals, a repeat of the violence we saw in 2006 would occur. But with the possible inclusion of more actors, including Hezbollah (via Syria), more extremist followers of the Muslim Brotherhood via Egypt (such as the ones in Gaza that killed the Italian activist Vittorio Arrigoni), and myriad other proxy militia, all against the PA, the PA would stand no chance.

So this unity coalition move by the PA not only means avoiding such an acrimonious fight, but also means the PA's leader, Mahmoud Abbas, maintains a hold on power, even though it will be somewhat less than he has now. And the threat to cease funding the PA? The tab will be picked up by Iran. As the widely publicised 3rd intifada nears (May 15th), it would be hardly possible for the PA to engage in open warfare with Israel, without having its patron (the US) kick up a serious fuss. This move then, is simply the PA changing patrons, although this transition of power is likely to be done quietly.

Such moves by the PA serve to only further the claim that Israel is the US's only true ally in the region. We can see that after years of the US attempting to bring both sides in the Israel-Palestine conflict together, Mahmoud Abbas has seemingly done a 180 degree u-turn and placed his vote with a country that has vowed to 'wipe Israel off the map'.
Update: It seems I wasn't the only one to spot this shift of Mahmoud Abbas to Iran. Over at CIC, Stephen McDonald arrived at the same conclusions:

"Iran has endorsed the Hamas-Fatah marriage. This despite claims by some that a unity agreement offers an opportunity for Hamas to be separated from its attachment to Iran. The logic being, when pulled out of isolation with the West, Hamas will no longer need the support of its paymasters in Tehran.
What evidence is there to support such a noble belief? The facts indicate precisely the opposite."

Sunday, 30 January 2011

The Diplomacy of Discord

The River War

In my last post, I showed Iran's tactical game play in the Mid East, particularly with regards to Israel. But supposing the Iranian Navy were able to enter the Red Sea, what then?

There are no numbers yet, but several reports cite Muslim Brotherhood (MB) activists among the protesters. With the uprisings intensifying this Friday just gone, the involvement of the mosques seems all the more plausible.

But so what. So what if the MB takes power and gains a significant power-sharing position in any future government. There is a possibility that it would respect peace accords with Israel, with the benefit of reaping US aid (reportedly in the region of $1.5 billion annually). But that's not what we saw from Hamas, the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Of course, Hamas are in the pockets of the Iranians. They were not reliant on US aid for their survival. But US aid isn't the only thing Egypt has.

The quotation at the outset of this post is from a book written in 1899. While Egypt's greatest resource might no longer be the Nile, substitute the word 'Nile', with 'Suez' and you might be getting onto the right track.

In 1956 and '67, wars between Egypt and Israel were fought over the Suez Canal; a vital shipping artery for oil to Europe and the US. But even more than this, Egypt also possesses unique geographical relations to Saudi Arabia, and borders Sudan and Libya (all 3 countries with oil). But not only this, if we're to believe the reports that the Muslim Brotherhood is taking advantage of the recent coup in Tunisia (which neighbours Libya from its other side), and considering Iran has been funding insurgents in Yemen (to the south of Saudi Arabia), this makes Egypt prime real estate, enveloping two countries (Libya and Saudi Arabia) which means killing more than two birds with one stone.

So, would Iran attempt to take over the Suez Canal, especially considering Israel's decisive wins in both conflicts?

Iran wouldn't need to be in control of the Suez, in order to wreck havoc and affect oil prices. Iran has invested in remote controlled, naval warfare vessels (speed boats) which could easily attack oil-tankers.
"IRNA said Zolfaqar was a new generation missile-launching vessel which can be used for patrol as well as for attack operations.
"It is designed for quick assaults on ships and is equipped with two missile launchers, two machine guns and a computer system to control the missiles," the report said."

When looking at the history of conflicts between Israel and Egypt, they have always been in Israel's favour. But not so with Iran-backed Hezbollah. In 2006 Israel fought a disastrous campaign against Hezbollah, in which Israel attempted to quash Hezbollah almost exclusively from the air. While Hezbollah is not a traditional army fighting to hold, or take, a specific territory, it nevertheless managed to entice the Israelis to overwhelm Hezbollah with sheer power. An act that resulted in Israel's munition supplies being depleted after only one month. And when looking at Israel and Hezbollah's encounter before this, the Lebanon War, it lasted from 1982-2000. A full eighteen years of conflict.But Israel has now improved its military once more, thanks to chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi, and these encounters with Hezbollah have become hard lessons.

This just goes to show Iran seems to be hoping to extend this method of warfare to other regions. To digress briefly, these are classic tactics based on Sun Tzu's The Art of War. A three thousand year old text from China about all things strategic. How Islamists got a hold of this is more than likely during the Cold War, when the Communists backed various Arab regimes.

But there are several other examples of how Iran has successfully employed asymmetrical warfare, and against a rival even more powerful than Israel, the US.

In Iraq, Iran funded rival Sunni and Shia insurgents, not only for the purposes of keeping the US bogged down in conflict, but as a psychological tactic to demoralise US public opinion back home. Something the left in the US has only been too willing to oblige.

In Nigeria, Iran has been happy to help fund jihadists there. So Iran has no problem funding Sunnis, it doesn't even have issues supporting and training non-Muslims how to fight. If it serves their purposes. As Sun Tzu says, war is an extension of policy. The best way to get what you want is not to even lift a finger; let someone else do it for you. This we saw in Vietnam, in Afghanistan against the Soviets and in the war on terror.

The best example of these principles applied, is Bevin Alexander's How Wars Are Won: The 13 Rules of War from Ancient Greece to the War on Terror

So to return to our original premise, Iran doesn't need to posses the Suez Canal, should the US or its allies allow Iran to reach it, nor does it need to posses Egypt, in the traditional sense. As long as it fuels chaos from there and creates instability, it is only a matter of waiting while it bides its time, waiting for others to wear themselves down.

With regards to Israel, it is considerably more restrained after having been impeded from pursuing its aims with Iran by the Obama administration. Israel has to contend with Hezbollah, Syria and possibly Turkey in the north; Hamas in Gaza, and potential uprisings to Israel's East (West Bank, Jordan). Lastly, it seems from within, Israel's left are attempting to coordinate uprisings from Israel's Arab community, as they have done for well over a decade.

Israel's current leadership is more competent than any other having served within the last few decades. It has seen many intifadas and peace processes, and in the last few months Benjamin Netanyahu has shown himself to be particularly adept at negotiating more time with Obama's suicidal peace policies. What Israel must be aware of now, is not rushing into provocations, nor attempt to win wars with overwhelming force, especially when it has to consider Barak Obama's indolence where Iran is concerned.

The next few hours will be crucial...

Update 1/31/11: "Egyptian intelligence chief and newly [July 2009] appointed Vice President Omar Soliman told then-Central Command commander Gen. David Petraeus, “’we hope Iran will stop supporting Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood and other cells’ within Egypt … ‘but if not we are ready.’”" Washington Times

Update 2/4/2011: Shippers concerned over Suez Canal vulnerability

Update 16/2/2011: Classic Sun Tzu ambush, taking things in a new direction: Iranian Warships in Med A Serious Provocation say Israel


With all that's happening in Egypt at the moment, one wonders why some are afraid of what seems to be a pro-democracy movement attempting to free itself from the tyranny of its Egyptian dictatorship. What has been most notable is how quickly president Barak Obama made an announcement siding with the protesters stating that:
"The people of Egypt have rights that are universal. That includes the right to peaceful assembly and association, the right to free speech, and the ability to determine their own destiny. These are human rights. And the United States will stand up for them everywhere."

Obama's Statement In Context

Obama's support of the protesters has been in marked contrast to Obama's silence and hesitance with the Iranian uprisings back in 2009. So is this a president that has learned? Is it simply an inexperienced leader having made mistakes and tried to correct the mistakes of the past?

US secretly backed Egyptian uprising for 3 years

While the above article could, on reflection seem promising, the other question that needs to be asked is why there have been no similar efforts in other countries such as Iran, Syria or North Korea? Maybe there has been, but they have simply not materialised yet? However, digging further, things suddenly become clearer:
"Top President Barack Obama funder Jodie Evans and her terrorist sympathizing group Code Pink have provoked a violent crisis in Egypt" 
"...Evans was joined in Cairo by Obama pals Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dorhn, both former terrorists with the Weather Underground."

So in fact not a professional CIA operation, as one can presume being initiated under the George W Bush administration, but convicted terrorists, deeply hostile to Israel and the West, fomenting revolution. These are same people behind the flotilla in May 2010, in which 9 terrorists (with ties to Hamas and Turkish PM Erdogan), were killed. This situation seems to contain an undercurrent of radicalism within it, both of the religious and the left.

But this isn't all that's wrong with this picture. In the background there's more...

Regional Concerns

Iran to Deploy War Ships in Red Sea And Mediterranean

Having the Iranian navy in these waters is a serious provocation, not only to the current Egyptian administration and Israel, but Egypt's neighbour, the oil-rich Saudi kingdom. But this is something Iran has tried several months ago and failed with.

So why does Iran want to enter these waters? Is it just about taking control of the Suez Canal? Or does the fact that Iran-friendly Muhammed el-Baradei wish to become Egypt's leader provide a missing connection?

There are credible reports that the Muslim Brotherhood is attempting to stir the streets, which has started a power struggle along its border in the Sinai Dessert with Gaza and Israel.

Beduin terrorists attempt takeover of northern Sinai

Latest: Egypt shuts borders until further notice.

All this happens to coincide with America's pull out of Iraq as well, allowing radical Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr to re-enter the country. This gives Iran a new front to play with; essentially expanding Iran's borders. Next door to Iraq, a worried Jordan, with similar uprisings stirring. Next to Jordan, the West Bank and Israel.

Digging Deeper

Stepping back for a moment, the recent, seemingly unconnected, 'Palileaks' documents reveal an interesting connection. For clarification, these leaks have sought to seriously undermine the PA, and of course de-legitimise Israel. And from the reactions to the reports, we've seen them to be highly successful. These documents having been leaked from Al Jazeera.

Then we hear Egypt has shut down Al Jazeera. Al Jazeera is based in Qatar. Dore Gold had this to say about Qatar, from his book The Rise of Nuclear Iran:
"Qatar was the most reluctant of the Gulf countries to adopt the anti-Iranian line. It had concerns about the fact that it had to share its maritime natural gas fields in the Persian Gulf with Iran, so it chose an approach that accommodated Iran. After the NEI [National Intelligence Estimate], this nuanced Qatari policy became a sharp break from the other Sunni Arab states. During December 2007, when Qatar hosted the summit meeting of the six Arab Gulf states, in the framework of the Gulf cooperation Council (GCC), the Qataris decided to invite President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran to attend, without consulting with any of the other leaders." (p.257-8)
Pinhas Inbari further reinforces the ulterior motives behind Al Jazeera's actions:
"al-Jazeera is serving Qatari policy to deepen unrest in the Arab world and link the current local upheavals to the Palestinian problem. In its presentation of the Palestine Papers, al-Jazeera distorted the contents in order to delegitimize the PLO and present Israel as a hard-line non-partner. There is also reason to suspect forgery in the documents referring to refugees since the person suspected of the leaks is the same person who wrote them."
The consequences of 'PakiLeaks', or the 'Palestine Papers' would be to pave the way for a more militant group to sieze power in the West Bank, most likely Iran-backed MB group Hamas.

Whichever angle one looks, and the deeper one digs, we find the fingerprints of Iran.

History Repeats Itself

In July 2006, the international community was united and increasingly resolute on sanctions for Iran. On the 12th of July, the US, Germany, China, Russia and Britain (all five permanent members of the UN) convened in Paris to recommend they will refer Iran's case to the Security Council in light of the fact that they had not received a response to their negotiation package from Iran.

Of course, this was the same day the Hezbollah ambushed an Israeli border patrol, killing 8 Israeli soldiers, kidnapping two. The 2006 Israel/Hezbollah war ensued.

Once again the international community fell for the ploy to distract attention away from Iran in order to criticise Israel. However, a UN resolution was voted on (1696) and passed with a vote of 14-1. Revealingly, Qatar was the only dissenting voice.


Today, sanctions have been passed on Iran, and they are biting. But most importantly where Egypt is concerned, this provides a most welcome distraction for Iran not only to shift attention from itself onto Egypt and the Muslim Brotherhood, but fulfil it's aims of dominance over the region; something analysts have been warning would happen for some years (something I'll explore a little bit in my next post).

This is not to say the Muslim Brotherhood do not pose a problem in and of themselves, but without a backer they are significantly limited. Certainly, without a state sponsor, they are simply incapable of taking on the likes of the US or Israeli military for long.

So once again we see a solution to many problems in the region by taking care of one: Iran. However, as seems to be increasingly obvious, the difficulty in curing these problems lie not at their root, but further afield, in Washington.

Update 1/31/11: Baradei negotiating coalition gov with Muslim Brotherhood Rubin Reports

Bingo! "Egyptian intelligence chief and newly [July 2009] appointed Vice President Omar Soliman told then-Central Command commander Gen. David Petraeus, “’we hope Iran will stop supporting Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood and other cells’ within Egypt … ‘but if not we are ready.’”" Washington Times

Update 2/4/2011: More regional concerns.

John Bolton on why Lebanon is more important than Egypt.

Iraqi PM accuses Iran of arming fighters.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Macy Grey: Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

In the last few days, the popular singer/songwriter Macy Grey started a furious debate by asking a question on her FaceBook fan page. The question related to whether she should go to Israel to perform or not. Also within the question was a statement in which she described the way Israel treats the Palestinians as 'disgusting' amounting to 'Apartheid' (spelled with a capital 'A').

At the time of this writing she has confirmed her attendance. But it's still worth discussing as the issues arise with every celebrity visiting Israel and are much more than simply being about music.

A visit and a performance in Israel, so the activists imply, would be to ignore - and even accept - Israel's position in the conflict. This may not be true on the part of the artist, but this is how the political activists hope the recipients of these messages will perceive the campaign.
However, even though Grey is critical of Israel, at the same time her instincts show her to be thoughtful and not easily manipulated: in the same statement she quite astutely asks:
"I don[']t know how my NOT going changes anything"
Indeed, her doubts are perfectly legitimate. It does not and will not change anything since the conflict, aside from the physical issues on the ground, is all about who is justified and unjustified. In a very real sense, for the moment the debate over the Israel/Palestine conflict is the Israel/Palestine conflict.

The Campaign

The lobbying of Macy Grey did not start with her question, it started when it became public knowledge that she wanted to perform in Israel. And Grey's experience is certainly not unique. Any celebrity wanting to perform in Israel can expect to be the target of a well planned campaign by political activists, thought out well in advance.

The BDS (Boycotts Divestment Sanctions) movement is a group of organisations based in Ramallah, West Bank, and endorsed by the PA (Palestinian Authority). Since a new law was passed in Israel, NGOs (non governmental organisation) must now provide information as to their sources of funding. In a recent investigation by NGO Monitor, shows the use aid from Europe (Holland, to be precise) intended for the Palestinian people, to fund its activities.

One of the highest profile groups of these is the online magazine Electronic Intifada. It has been key in disseminating articles which include accusations of genocide by the Israelis, apartheid, Holocaust Denial, that Jews living in the West Bank is illegal, that checkpoints are a source of humiliation to the Palestinians, that Israel's security wall is unjust etc. Most likely all the issues quoted in the activists campaign against Macy Grey. All of the issues raised are contained with the arguments surrounding the publication of former US president Jimmy Carter's book 'Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid'.

Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid

With the publication of Carter's book, there were mass walkouts from Carter's own 'Carter Center' by professors and diplomats who had been with the ex-president during his meetings to secure peace deals in the Middle East. Overall, they objected to his approach as well as his incorrect use of terms, language, incorrect maps and so on.

In one particular example, the former president contested Dennis Ross, a Middle East Envoy and senior advisor to the State Dept as well as 4 US presidents (including Barak Obama); the meeting, Ross points out, in which he was present, but Carter was not.

The debate over Carter's book even provoked a response from Bill Clinton, who had not only attended the peace negotiations Carter talks about, he mediated them. Clinton remarked of Carter's book simply: "... it's not factually accurate and it's not fair."

For those wishing to read more, CAMERA (the Comittee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America) has compiled a list of summaries to various critiques of Carter's book, as well as articles by those having left the Carter Center explaining why. For those who prefer paper to a pixels however, there is CAMERA's publication with much the same content.

Operation Cast Lead

If there is one other issue activists will cite as being 'proof' of Israeli war crimes, it is Israel's military operation from Dec 2008 to Jan 2009 called Operation Cast Lead.

The operation was launched in response to 8 years and 12,000 rocket attacks by Hamas, categorised by the European Union and the US State Dept as a terrorist organisation. The rocket attacks in question mainly targeted and devastated the town Sderot next to Gaza, where Hamas rule with an iron fist.

Following the operation, a UN investigation into the conflict was launched, headed by Judge Richard Goldstone, a South African Jew and self-declared anti-Apartheid activist.

The Goldstone report was published and found Israel guilty of war crimes; the political activists went into overdrive.

However, no sooner had the report been approved at the UN, did things start to unravel.

On the 28th Oct 2009, in an interview with Aljazeera, the secretary general of the OIC (Organisation of Islamic Conference) stated that they had commissioned the Goldstone Report, thus giving Israel's claim that the report was biased, some merit. The OIC contains several member states in the Islamic world who not only fund al Qaeda, but created it, and many of its off-shoot organisations.

Second, was the grave revelation of Judge Richard Goldstone and some of the sentences he passed during the Apartheid in south Africa. The judge was found to have sentenced dozens of black people to death by hanging. Goldstone's response was that he was 'obligated to uphold the laws of the land'. Jewish professor of law at Harvard university, Alan Dershowitz, retorted 'That's what Mengele [SS officer and Nazi physician] said'.

Lastly, and specifically related to the war crimes findings against Israel, was how the Goldstone Commission decided to investigate specific incidents. What came to light was that far from the Goldstone Comission conducting a criminal, fact finding investigation, incidents of alleged war crimes were recommended by Israeli human rights organisations. The Goldstone Commission then went to the relevant people and places (presumably under the watch of Hamas) and carried out their search for the facts. 

However, far from Israeli human rights organisations being impartial, they have a history of controversy and unfounded claims of human rights abuses by Israel. Just this year, these same human rights organisations to have been shown to be funded by the same countries that commissioned the report; the same countries with ties to the terrorists Israel was defending itself against.

In addition to the above cases, the flotilla incident in 2010, in which Israel is accused of mounting a 'peace activist' boat in international waters illegally, and killing 9 Turkish terrorists seems certain to admonish Israel of any wrong doing.


So what does this actually say about the situation? Certainly, innocent civilians have died. No one denies this. But unlike Turks denying the Armenian Genocide, in Israel there is no proof. What there is evidence of is conflict, and fierce debate as to who is to blame for the deaths. This is a tragic and seemingly unsolvable dispute over land, with the 'leadership' of one side (the Palestinian) attempting to blame Israel for the suffering it has been complicit in creating due to the misuse of aid (among many other things).

Certainly, conflict is unpleasant. But to use powerful terms with devastating consequences, to attempt to hide behind women and children in a conflict you have provoked and then attempt to profit from this by laying blame on your enemy is the very definition of 'disgusting'.

In 2010 alone, there were performances by several well known artists including Elton John, Rod Stewart, Metallica, Ozzy Ozborne, Rihanna and others. It's also interesting to note that the Iraqi musician, Ismail Fadel, also performed there.

One artist boycotting Israel has no effect on Israel at all. And to be perfectly blunt, one Macy Grey, one hundred, or no Macy Grey's performing in Israel will not have an effect.

Who performs in Israel doesn't matter. The point is these artists are important because their names are brands. In the sub-culture of which music fan likes whatever band, what a leader of a particular band does, is a statement and an endorsement. These artists are being used in an attempt to sell an idea.

The powerful terms applied to Israel have consequences. When applied incorrectly they cease to become criticism and become defamation (as well as abuse to genuine victims of Apartheid etc). It stops being debate, which is healthy and democratic, and starts becoming part of the effort on behalf of a Middle Eastern dictatorship to destroy one sovereign nation, by an enemy that has no limits about what they're willing to do to achieve their aims.

The BDS movement, therefore, is a campaign to focus attention away from those guilty of exactly the things they accuse Israel of doing.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

The Exploitation of Israel & Gilad Shalit

Having previously written about how terror works - and that it is a method of mass communication at a psychological level - there is one small example where the usual terrorists tactics have failed: Israel.

For one, Israel has national service. All Israelis, men and women, must serve in the army. This usually gives them an inside, upfront understanding of what is happening; the very real threat they're facing. In and of itself, this is enough to provide life-long convictions of what that society is up against (there are, of course, exceptions).

Secondly, there is the short history of the modern Israeli State. Which, aside from its religious roots, provides a narrative full of wars of annihilation; an Arab enemy's strong rejection of the Jewish presence; and from Israel's senior citizens, memories of the nation's birth. The desperation in the fight to survive; not knowing from day to day whether their continued existence was a certainty.

Lastly of course, there is the history of the Jews worldwide. A 2000 year history of persecutionin foreign lands culminating in the Holocaust.

All of these examples show why Israel has survived the barrage of propaganda and terrorism: because of an immensely strong self-belief and knowledge of its history. The above reasons, therefore, could not be a stronger antidote to claims of Jewish illegitimacy made by terrorists, despite their attempts to revise and erase facts from history. But this does not mean that Muslim fundamentalists have given up trying. In Israel, psychological warfare has taken on another form: hostage taking.

Generally, the psychology behind kidnapping is pretty straightforward; a person is kidnapped, and a ransom is demanded. Out of fear of harm to the hostage, the ransom is paid for the safe return of the hostage. But while hostage taking has been in practice by Islamic terrorists throughout the world, the way it now being used with Gilad Shalit is having repercussions at a political level.

In demonstrations worldwide, we have become accustomed to seeing the left virtually hysterical about one issue, but silent on others. We hear never ending hyperbole about Israeli 'war crimes', but nothing about the way Israeli civilians are targeted by terrorists, even child suicide bombers. In short, protests and campaigns are organised in accordance with political interest rather than being about human rights. And Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit is no exception.

Rather than target Hamas and their supporters or the Red Cross in Geneva, the 'Free Gilad Shalit' campaigners have directed their efforts at the Israeli prime minister's residence, that of Benjamin Netanyahu. Their belief - and that of Gilad's father, Noam - is that as PM, Netanyahu and only Netanyahu has the ability to release the IDF hostage. It is simply a matter of negotiation - and will - on the part of the prime minister in order to negotiate an end to this ordeal.

But there is a problem. By raising Gilad Shalit's profile to such a high level, he has not only become a pawn more valuable to Hamas than all the prisoners in Israeli jails, his net worth has become an insurance policy for the terror organisation against any Israeli attempts to assassinate Hamas leaders.

In the left's pursuit to make Shalit a national symbol of the Israeli leadership's failure, with the left coming to 'champion' the Shalit family's campaign in a bid to weaken the Israeli PM, politically, the left have done irreconcilable damage to Gilad's case and the Shalit family and Israel's hopes.

The callously cynical exploitation of Gilad Shalit has helped Hamas become an international celebrity; as succinctly stated:

"Shalit is an irreplaceable asset for enhancing his [Hamas leader Khaled Mashal's] international prestige by bringing world leaders to his door to plead for the Israeli soldier's release. By this means, Hamas gains international legitimacy and recognition as a force to be reckoned with in the region rather than a bunch of rabid terrorists."

Should Gilad not come home, it is quite obvious who will be blamed, and who will make no bones about profiting from it.