Saturday, 8 May 2010

Love of the Land: Iranian Nukes: A Boxer Doesn't Need a Gun If His Opponent Is Too Afraid To Punch Back

Iranian Nukes: A Boxer Doesn't Need a Gun If His Opponent Is Too Afraid To Punch Back

Barry Rubin
The Rubin Report
08 May '10

Would the Iranian government hand nuclear weapons to a terrorist group or fire off nuclear-tipped missiles itself?

It is easy for many experts and “experts” to answer this question ”No.” Their reasoning is that Iran has proven itself cautious historically and knows it would be held responsible and punished for doing so. The responder could add that the Islamic regime has not been adventurous or crazy in its actual policy (as opposed to its words) during the last thirty years.

I’d agree with that response as far as it goes. But it misses some very key points that might end up getting a huge number of people killed.

Iran has not been adventurous or crazy in the manner that Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was in 1979 and 1990, that is, Iran has not sent its military forces across the border to invade another country. Instead, Tehran has used subversion as its technique, backing and helping groups undermining other countries with terrorist attacks and a longer-term attempt to build a popular base in order to seize state power.

Thus, to say that Iran has not attacked a neighbor with conventional military forces is quite true, yet this may not tell us how Iran will behave regarding terrorist groups. Moreover, a nuclear-armed Iran may feel a little more confident than the pre-nuclear version.

Having said that I would correct the original response to be this: Iran will probably neither give nuclear weapons to terrorist groups nor fire them at Israel or anyone else.

Probably means that the odds are higher—let’s say far higher—than 50 percent that they won’t do so. The problem here is that even if there is a 10, 20. pr 30 percent chance of that happening, that’s not the kind of risk one wants to take.

But there are other, even more likely, scenarios that are never discussed but are quite important. Here are the two I think most important:

(Read full article)

Love of the Land: Iranian Nukes: A Boxer Doesn't Need a Gun If His Opponent Is Too Afraid To Punch Back

DoubleTapper: Camero’s Xaver Through Wall Vision System

DoubleTapper: Camero’s Xaver Through Wall Vision System

Israel Matzav: Scholar: JCall made up of ex-pat Israelis

Scholar: JCall made up of ex-pat Israelis

A French-born scholar claims that JCall, which introduced itself as the European version of JStreet this past week, is made up of ex-pat Israelis and is not representative of European Jewry.

J-Call publicized a petition this week signed by 3,000 European Jews in favor of a Jewish construction freeze in Six Day War-liberated Jerusalem. In response, French-born Dr. Navon claims that most of them are left wing Israelis. He said he is leading a counter-petition “that will prove that Europe is not only those left-wing Israelis who ran away from here [Israel] and incite against Israel. There are many in Europe who truly understand our struggle, including some in conservative parties; they recognize our rights and know that we always tried to make compromises with the Arabs.”

Navon spoke with Arutz Sheva’s Hebrew newsmagazine on Wednesday.

“Those who like to malign Israel,” he said, “have an entire theory about how to solve the Middle East conflict. But this theory has failed and continues to be disproven again and again. But instead of admitting that they are wrong, they choose to blame Israel for the failure.”

As an example, Dr. Navon cites a former Israeli Ambassador to France, Prof. Eli Bar-Navi. “He is a history professor who taught in Tel Aviv University… When he was ambassador, he always attacked us; in 2000 he emigrated from Israel, and since 2005 he has headed the European Museum, leading the anti-Israel initiative – all in order to tell the Europeans that Israel is the one to blame for the lack of peace in the Middle East.”


Israel Matzav: Scholar: JCall made up of ex-pat Israelis

Israel Matzav: Foreign Ministry may stop sending diplomats to speak to US and UK students

Foreign Ministry may stop sending diplomats to speak to US and UK students

I hope that the Foreign Ministry will not actually do this, because I would hate to see them admit defeat to political correctness. On the other hand, I would hate to be the consular officer called upon to speak in this type of atmosphere.

Maariv reports (link in Hebrew) that the Israeli foreign ministry is considering canceling speeches and lectures by foreign ministry personnel to 'students' in the United States and the United Kingdom. The speeches have gotten too dangerous and the speakers cannot be heard anyway.

Foreign Ministry officials are considering stopping the lectures by senior figures around the world, particularly in Britain. The reason: The outspoken verbal attacks by students and pro-Palestinian activists, which render them ineffective. The attacks peaked last week, when demonstrators assaulted the Israeli deputy ambassador to Britain at the end of a lecture she gave at the University of Manchester.

Ma’ariv has learned that Israeli diplomats stationed in the US have significantly reduced the number of public lectures that they give to students, as a result of the frequent heckling. The last [lecture] was given by Israeli Ambassador to the US Michael Oren in February at the University of California.

“It seems that giving lectures in public halls at universities in Britain is becoming ineffective in terms of PR. The pro-Palestinian students cause major disruptions and prevent any dialogue. In the worst case, the lecture is simply stopped,” a Foreign Ministry source said, “in the end, the heckling and the incitement get the newspaper headlines, and not the message that the lecturer wanted to convey.”

The Foreign Ministry has raised several alternative ideas. One of them is to increase the use of social networks as a means of PR. The Foreign Ministry has several staff members who are considered experts on public diplomacy using the Web, including Deputy Director of the Training Bureau Yaron Gamburg and Ilan Sztulman of the Public Affairs Department. Another alternative is to allow the lectures to continue only in closed forums of lecturers and teachers.

Sorry, but I'm against letting the 'Palestinians' win like that. And if we stop presenting our views, they win by default.

Israel Matzav: Foreign Ministry may stop sending diplomats to speak to US and UK students

Love of the Land: Either way, you’re dead!

Either way, you’re dead!

We can avoid Iranian nukes by opting for the Auschwitz borders or we can avoid the Auschwitz borders but be bullied by Iranian nukes.

Sarah Honig
Another Tack/JPost
07 May '10

Time to quit quibbling. No pedantic hairsplitting can mitigate the evidence: The Obama administration cynically links Iran to the Arab-Israeli conflict. The premise is simple and chilling. If Israel wants a last-minute, last-ditch, quasi-credible American move to keep Iran from obtaining nukes, it must pay the piper by making hefty concessions to the sham paraded as the Palestinian Authority. Boiled down to its bare essence, the White House diktat means that Israel can maybe extricate itself from existential Iranian threats by submitting itself to existential Iranian-proxy threats.

Had Barack Obama ever read Shalom Aleichem’s autobiography he’d have encountered the author’s harrowing recollection of the story his grandfather told him about “the bird-Jew.” That was how the grandfather referred to Noah, a pious innkeeper who lived in constant dread of the gentile village squire. Trembling, Noah headed for the manor to renew his lease. His timing was off, because the courtyard was full of festive guests ready to go hunting.

The squire, in a jovial mood, agreed to renew the lease if Noah would climb the stable roof and pretend to be a bird, so he could shoot him. Fearful of angering the nobleman, the worst consequence the Jew could imagine, Noah obsequiously did his bidding. He went up and, as ordered, bent forward, flung his arms sideways and assumed a birdlike pose. At that point the squire fired and Noah fell, as any slain bird would.

Although realizing he was about to be put to death anyway, the bird-Jew played along with his executioner, still absurdly terrified of what might happen if he didn’t. Obama is the proverbial squire in our own tale, casting Israel as the latter-day bird-Jew.

Israel is now squarely in Obama’s gun sights. It’s blamed for all Mideast ills. Obama, after all, is the high priest of the political theology of American/Western guilt. Israel embodies Western culpability. If Obama preaches American penance vis-à-vis Arabs/Muslims, Israel obviously must atone in more than words for the sins he ascribes to it.

(Read full article)

Love of the Land: Either way, you’re dead!

Israel Matzav: What the US doesn't get about Israel and the 'Palestinians'

What the US doesn't get about Israel and the 'Palestinians'

I doubt that anyone at the White House read Giora Eiland's piece on why the 'proximity talks' are doomed to failure. And that's a pity. Because had they read it, they might think twice about the amount of effort they are investing in a 'process' that is doomed to failure.

The first problem stems from deep cultural differences between us, people of the Middle East, and the Americans. For the Americans, if Israeli-Palestinian talks have been going on for 17 years now, the negotiations obviously aim at securing a final-status agreement. On the other hand, Israel and the Palestinians have been engaged in talks for two wholly different goals.

The first objective is maintaining a process for the sake of the process. For Israel, the ongoing process mitigates the international pressure exerted on us; for the Palestinian leadership, the process is the main justification for the continued rule of the veteran leadership. Hence, the very existence of a process is vital for the sake of both sides’ political survival.

The second objective of both Israelis and Palestinians is to ensure that when the current round of talks fails, the other side will be blamed for it.


The big loser may be Obama. The failure of the process will certainly not boost his status, yet even if success is achieved – it may lead to grave disappointment. Let’s assume that an agreement is reached as result of massive American pressure. The strategic outcome may be greatly disappointed.

The US believes that the Arab world truly wants to resolve the Israel-Palestinian conflict and would be grateful to America should it be able to force both sides into such deal. Yet the truth is different: The Arab world is uninterested in seeing an end to the conflict. In the view of the Arab Street, a situation that includes recognition of the Jewish state, its sovereignty in the Holy Land, even partial control in the Holy Sites, and renunciation to the right of return would constitute capitulation to American pressure.

The Arab street would be mad at the US and at its own leaders should such agreement be reached.

The American assessment that resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would have a powerful positive effect on America’s regional status may prove to be a grave error. The conclusion here is that the two-state solution, which requires so much from the parties involved and so little from the Arab world, will likely not be secured. Yet should it be achieved after all, its implications may be deeply disappointing.

Read it all. Send it to the White House. The idea of having a process for the sake of having a process is exactly how the Middle East operates. I can think of other instances where we have processes that are leading nowhere and that exist for their own sake. Think of it as appointing a committee to deal with a problem that no one wants to resolve.

Israel Matzav: What the US doesn't get about Israel and the 'Palestinians'

Love of the Land: Iran, Hezbollah, and the Bomb

Iran, Hezbollah, and the Bomb

William Harris
The Weekly Standard
07 May '10

When Iran gets the bomb, the nuclear club will have a crucial new feature. Without an Iranian bomb and barring regime change in Pakistan, we know that no nuclear power will transfer a device to a private army of the religious elect like Hezbollah in Lebanon. With an Iranian bomb, such assurance instantly ends. This is a looming, tangible state of affairs--in contrast to the hype about loose nuclear materials at the April 2010 Washington nuclear security summit.

Proponents of containing a nuclear Iran in and around the Obama administration conceive of deterring Iran in standard realist style. The Islamic Republic of Iran, however, has become a hybrid of the government of God and ruthless militarized mafias. It is well practiced in long-range subversion, intimidation, and weapons smuggling. It may be confidently expected to shred so-called containment, especially when equipped with a nuclear aura and facing the quivering potentates of Arabia.

In any case, Iran has a strategic extension across the Middle East to the Mediterranean that puts it beyond containment. On February 25, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah met in Damascus to celebrate their alignment and its achievements. The Syrian-Iranian partnership has enabled the Syrian ruling clique to go from strength to strength in dealing with the West and the Arabs. Syria only looks forward to more gains from the partnership as Iran moves toward the bomb. At the tripartite summit, Assad mocked Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's call for Syria to steer away from Iran.

(Read full article)

Love of the Land: Iran, Hezbollah, and the Bomb

Love of the Land: Judge Goldstone's dark past

Judge Goldstone's dark past

Yedioth Ahronoth investigation reveals man preaching human rights, who authored scathing report against Israel's operation in Gaza, sent at least 28 black defendants to gallows as South African judge under Apartheid regime

Tehiya Barak
Israel Opinion/Ynet
07 May '10
Posted before Shabbat

He asserted that Israel committed war crimes and came out against the Israel Defense Forces, whom he claimed violated basic human rights. Judge Richard Goldstone forgot just one thing – to look long and hard in the mirror and to do some soul-searching before he rushes to criticize others.

A special Yedioth Ahronoth investigation reveals Richard Goldstone's dark side as a judge during the Apartheid era in South Africa. It turns out, the man who authored the Goldstone Report criticizing the IDF's actions during Operation Cast Lead took an active part in the racist policies of one of the cruelest regimes of the 20th century.

During his tenure as sitting as judge in the appellant court during the 1980s and 1990s sentenced dozens of blacks mercilessly to their death.

This stain on Goldstone's past kept him from coming out against the death penalty on many occasions and from vehemently criticizing countries who still allow executions. Goldstone didn't bother confessing and telling about his actions in any of his statements or speeches.

(Read full report)

Love of the Land: Judge Goldstone's dark past

Love of the Land: What the Scud crisis revealed

What the Scud crisis revealed

Hussain Abdul-Hussain
NOW Lebanon
06 May '10
Posted before Shabbat

The question as to whether Hezbollah has received Scud missiles from Syria remains unanswered. What is clear is that the crisis reinforced the fact that Hezbollah remains the sovereign power in Lebanon, a situation that Syria is keen to exploit, while the Lebanese state has gone on a walkabout.

It has long been known that Hezbollah was replenishing most of its depleted weapons stock after the 2006 July War. One UN report after another has highlighted the Syrian-Hezbollah breach of Security Council resolutions 1559 and 1701.

In September 2009, the intelligence community in Washington was circulating substantiated reports about Syrian training of Hezbollah fighters on launching anti-aircraft missiles. In mid-January 2010, I published a story about this activity and reported that intelligence had proof that trucks of missiles were stationed on the Syrian side of the Lebanese border, with Damascus reluctant to order the trucks in after receiving indirect threats from Tel Aviv that such a step would put Syria at risk of Israeli retribution. The story received little reaction but also no denial at the time.

By mid-February 2010, the missiles had literally disappeared off the radar, which meant that they had either found their way to Hezbollah, or had been sent back to Syrian army depots. The State Department officially warned the Syrians against potentially shipping the missiles to Hezbollah on February 26.

On April 10, I reported the US warning to Syria, and retold the training story as the background. I also wrote that the prevailing thinking was that the missiles were Scud-D, and had most probably been shipped into Lebanon.

This time, all hell broke loose.

Newer reports have now surfaced that the missiles are actually M-600s, the Syrian version of the Iranian Fateh-110, rather than Scud-Ds. Whether the rockets actually made it into the hands of Hezbollah’s fighters could not be verified.

(Read full article)

Love of the Land: What the Scud crisis revealed

Love of the Land: Egypt Bars Leading Israeli Doctor From Attending International Conference In Cairo

Egypt Bars Leading Israeli Doctor From Attending International Conference In Cairo

Dr. Aaron Lerner
07 May '10
Posted before Shabbat

Maariv correspondent Tomar Welmar reports in today’s edition that Egypt has so far refused to issue a visa to Dr. Uri Seligsohn, Professor of Hematology at Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer so that he can attend the 56th Scientific and Standardization Committee (SSC) meeting of the International Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis (ISTH) in Cairo, May 22 – 25, 2010.

Professor Seligsohn is the Chairman, Education Committee of the ISTH and supported the decision by ISTH two years ago to schedule the 2010 meeting in Cairo.

“I thought that there were ties of peace and friendship between Israel and Egypt and I thought that with the help of the conference we would be able to develop the Egyptian medical system, but unfortunately I was wrong. It is most serious that medicine is being mixed with politics, and apparently the Egyptian are uncomfortable that a Jew and an Israeli doctor should come to their conferences. Since it became known that the Egyptians refuse to approve my entry there has been a tremendous commotion among researchers and doctors around the world. I know of many researchers who have cancelled their attendance at the conference and the management of the organization has announced that this move will have serious ramifications for scientists in Egypt,” Seligsohn told Welmar.

Love of the Land: Egypt Bars Leading Israeli Doctor From Attending International Conference In Cairo

Love of the Land: If the EU seems fragmented, take a look at the Arab world

If the EU seems fragmented, take a look at the Arab world

Michael Young
The National (UAE)
06 May '10
Posted before Shabbat

(It's good on occasion to take a look around the neighborhood. Y.)

The discussion over the future of the European Union offers a useful window through which to examine the destiny of the Arab world. European states are facing a major crisis of meaning as they decide what their intervention to save Greece from financial ruin says about EU solidarity in the future, where other shipwrecks lurk.

The platitudes of Arab unity have long jarred with the reality of Arab states driven apart by mistrust and competition. However, nationalist reflexes notwithstanding, the EU, even in an existential emergency, has not lost sight of what it was set up to achieve. Arab divisions, in contrast, threaten to undermine a unified response to the major existential challenge faced by Arab regimes today: a nuclear Iran.

Iranian hegemony and Greece’s debt are very different things. But they are both good tests as to whether it’s better for states to stand united, warts and all, or fall divided. Surveying the Arab world today, it is difficult to see who might become the engine of a cohesive Arab policy to contain Iran. And here, the EU experience becomes useful.

Arab unity, whether writ large or pertaining to specific events, has always coalesced around certain states. In the same way that EU policy must earn the acquiescence, above all, of Germany and France, traditionally Arabs have looked toward Saudi Arabia and Egypt to build a consensus, with Syria and Iraq having a greater or lesser say depending on the situation. Arab power has fluctuated, however, so that at times poles of influence were built around rivalries between Egypt and Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, Egypt and Syria, and so on.

Today, the Arab state system is in disarray. Saudi Arabia and Egypt no longer lead as they once did. Both have seen less powerful states, for instance Syria and Qatar, seize the initiative. Last year the Saudis were forced to give Syria a green light to return to Lebanon politically in the hope that this would draw Damascus away from Tehran and facilitate Syrian co-operation with Riyadh over Iraq. Qatar has also punched above its weight by mediating in conflicts and playing on regional contradictions. The emirate has maintained good ties with Tehran while hosting the largest American military base in the Gulf.

(Read full article)

Love of the Land: If the EU seems fragmented, take a look at the Arab world

Love of the Land: Egypt Not Serious About Stopping Smuggling?

Egypt Not Serious About Stopping Smuggling?

Dr. Aaron Lerner
Weekly Commentary
06 May '10
Posted before Shabbat

Time and again both analysts and officials have claimed the Egypt genuinely wants to stop the smuggling into Gaza. Yet after close to two years the much touted American tunnel detecting gizmos haven’t put a dent in the smuggling between Egypt and the Gaza Strip. And today BBC News correspondent Jon Donnison revealed that Gazans are already cutting through Egypt’s multi-million dollar steel barrier at the affordable cost of $1,000 a tunnel hole.

Related: Gazans cut through Egypt's border barrier using high-powered oxygen fuelled blow torches

So what’s the real story? Is Egypt serious about stopping the smuggling or just going through the motions?

One thing is certain: if Egypt wanted to it could readily detect and stop the tremendous flow of material reaching the miniscule Egypt-Gaza border. After all, we aren’t talking about a few sacks of contraband being whisked through the desert in the middle of the night on the backs of camels. We are talking about literally hundreds of truckloads making their way to within at most a few hundred yards from the border. A fleet of trucks that can be detected, stopped, inspected and seized.

There is no question about it. If instead of investing in gizmos and steel walls the Egyptians bulldozed a sterile border zone running a few thousand meters in from the Gaza border the remaining tunneling operations would require a magnitude of activity that any serious Egyptian intelligence operation could readily detect.

So is Egypt serious about stopping the smuggling or just going through the motions? And if Egypt isn’t serious about stopping the smuggling, why is Israel essentially silent on the matter?

Love of the Land: Egypt Not Serious About Stopping Smuggling?

Love of the Land: If This is Our Future

If This is Our Future

Daniel Gordis
07 May '10
Posted before Shabbat

Imagine this, if you can. A prestigious university in the United States, with deep roots in the American Jewish community, invites Israel’s ambassador to deliver its annual commencement address. But instead of expressing pride in the choice of speaker and in the country that he represents, the university’s students, many of them Jewish, protest. They don’t want to hear from the ambassador. (See this Facebook page.) He’s a “divisive” figure, the student newspaper argues, and the students deserved better.

Tragically, of course, there’s nothing hypothetical about the scenario. Brandeis University recently decided to award honorary degrees to Michael Oren, Dennis Ross and Paul Simon, among others, at its May 23 commencement, and Ambassador Oren, an extraordinary orator among his many other qualities, was invited to deliver the commencement address.

But the days in which Jewish students on an American campus would have been thrilled to have the Israeli ambassador honored by their school are apparently long since gone. Brandeis’s student newspaper, The Justice (how’s that for irony?), deplored the choice, writing that “Mr. Oren is a divisive and inappropriate choice for keynote speaker at commencement, and we disapprove of the university’s decision to grant someone of his polarity on this campus that honor.”

The ambassador is a polarizing figure? Why is that? Because, the editorial continues, “the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a hotly contested political issue, one that inspires students with serious positions on the topic to fervently defend and promote their views.”

This is where we are today. For many young American Jews, the only association they have with Israel is the conflict with the Palestinians. Israel is the country that oppresses Palestinians, and nothing more.

No longer is Israel the country that managed to forge a future for the Jewish people when it was left in tatters after the Holocaust. Israel is not, in their minds, the country that gave refuge to hundreds of thousands of Jews expelled from North Africa when they had nowhere else to go, granting them all citizenship, in a policy dramatically different from the cynical decisions of Lebanon, Syria and Jordan to turn their Palestinian refugees into pawns in what they (correctly) assumed would be a lengthy battle with Israel.

(Read full article)

Love of the Land: If This is Our Future

Love of the Land: The Disconnect

The Disconnect

Todd Warnick
Jerusalem Central
06 May '10

There is simply a cultural disconnect between the US and Israel.

Here's what Obama and the Obami - and surprisingly Martin Indyk, who was not only US ambassador to Israel, but has innumerable personal ties here as well - doesn't understand: there is a concept in Israel called "tachliss", which basically is used in context of something that is judged by action as opposed to words. Here is Indyk spouting off some more of his pathetic claptrap:

"The real charm offensive needs to take place in Israel. … I would accept it was a charm offensive if he caught a plane and went over there, which he needs to do. He’s lost the Israeli public. If he were to go over there and explain to the Israeli public, it would be hugely beneficial to his objectives."

At least Martin understands that Obama has lost the Israeli public.

(Read full post)

Love of the Land: The Disconnect

Elder of Ziyon: Egypt's steel wall folly

Egypt's steel wall folly

From the BBC (and I saw these claims in the PalArab press earlier this week):

"Every problem has a solution. The Egyptian steel barrier was a problem but we found a solution," says Mohammed, a grimy-faced Gazan tunnel digger who didn't want to give his real name.

Mohammed, covered in dust and dirt, is in the process of digging a 750m (2,460ft) smuggling tunnel from Gaza into Egypt. He says he's been digging it for 18 months.

As he hauls up a plastic container of sand with an electric winch from the metre-wide tunnel shaft, he says the new underground Egyptian barrier aimed at stopping smuggling is a "joke."

"We just cut through it using high-powered oxygen fuelled blow torches," he says.

According to Egypt it is made of bomb-proof, super-strength steel and is costing millions of dollars to build.

Mohammed smiles when he hears this.

"We pay around a $1,000 (£665) for a man with an oxygen-fuelled cutter to come and break through it. It takes up to three weeks to cut through but we get there in the end," he says.

Mohammed says the steel barrier is 5-10cm (2-4in) thick.

The BBC spoke to one man in Gaza employed to cut through the barrier. He said he could cut a metre-square hole through it in less than a day.

This news will be embarrassing for Egypt's government.

Encouraged by the United States which gives millions of dollars in military aid to Egypt every year, it says it is trying to crack down on smuggling into Gaza.

The BBC asked the Egyptian government to comment on the fact that Gazans were already cutting through the barrier. The government has not yet responded.

This is very believable.

Safes in the US are rated as to how secure they are. Underwriters Laboratories certifies safes with different degrees of security.

For example, a TL-30 safe has been tested that it would take 30 minutes to break in with tools such as diamond grinding wheels, high-speed drills with pressure applying devices, or common hand tools such as hammers, chisels, saws, and carbide-tip drills. A TRTL-30 rating adds a torch to the tools.

That's it - 30 minutes to break into the best commercial safes.

The reason that safes are secure is because during those 30 minutes, alarms could go off, cameras could find the burglars, a security guard could notice them, or any number of other defenses could be activated. But to get through the steel is only a matter of patience, time and tools. A steel barrier doesn't keep the bad guys out - it only slows them down.

If Egypt really spent millions on this barrier, they should have added sensors to determine when and where the wall is being breached. Otherwise they only bought a little time and in a few months things will be back to normal in Rafah.

Elder of Ziyon: Egypt's steel wall folly

RubinReports: After Times Square: The Media's Refusal to Discuss Islamism in Terrorism Surpasses Satire

After Times Square: The Media's Refusal to Discuss Islamism in Terrorism Surpasses Satire

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By Barry Rubin

A lot has been said about media contortions to avoid the “I” word when talking about terrorists, and most specifically about the Times Square bomber. But when one sees it in an extended analysis (22 long paragraphs) in the country’s best newspaper, not just some remarks on television by a giggly host, it is really shocking.

In my view the Post is definitely the most serious general newspaper in the United States today. [I’m not even considering the Wall Street Journal because of its financial/business focus.]

So I’m ticked off about the lead article in the May 7 Washington Post, “Suspect Made `Gradual’ Shift.” The headline on the jump page is: “Radicalization of Times Square suspect was gradual, officials say.”

Gradual shift to what? What kind of radicalization?

As you examine the headline you can spot an incredibly clear contradiction. The subhead of the article is “Religion and Anger.” But which religion and how did it figure in the story? The issue is never—well, almost never--raised in the long article.

We read that he is angry at the United States, that this increased during several trips to Pakistan, and that he trained with the Pakistani Taliban.

What kind of organization might that be? Liberal or conservative? Communist or Fascist? What are the beliefs and aims one would have to feel in order to train with the Taliban? Not a hint.

Oh yes, an official is quoted as saying “a combination of religion and anger.” But that’s it. No hint of what religion, no mention that religion and anger combined have been responsible for more than 10,000 revolutionary Islamist (oops!) terrorist attacks including September 11, Madrid trains, London subway, Arkansas recruiter, Empire State Building, LA airport (still classified as non-terrorist though a Muslim gunmen killed two people at the El Al counter), Fort Hood, Detroit airplane bombing, and many more.

Sometimes it gets ridiculous—well, it’s all ridiculous but sometimes especially so:

“A U.S. official said Shahzad was associated with at least one individual who was in contact with Anwar al-Aulaqi, the American-born cleric in Yemen, who has been tied to the suspect in the attempted Christmas bombing…as well as the man charged in last year’s fatal shootings at Fort Hood, Tex.”

I won’t remark on the reference to “the man charged.” Everyone is innocent until proven guilty but that wording is a little further than necessary isn’t it? Yet more important: What kind of cleric might Aulaqi be? What kind of ideology is he teaching?

The article continues, analyzing the bomber's possible motives:

“The lender foreclosed on the property, prompting speculation that financial hardship contributed to Shahzad’s alleged violent turn.”

See, the Post is too good to suggest that this is true, it's mere speculation. But, ok, might there be some speculation that he became a radical Islamist? Might his religious belief have contributed to his “alleged” violent turn? Apparently, it is all right to speculate about a dust mote but not the woolly mammoth waving its tusks and trumpeting loudly at stage center.

Incidentally, because the Post is basically a good newspaper it did tell us that the property was only foreclosed after he quit his job and stopped making payments on it. So much for his being a victim of the economic situation. Let me speculate that he was getting ready to launch an attack and so didn't need to keep paying out money.

This is only another “speculation” but the presence of the subhead mentioning religion might indicate that there was more on Islamism in the article and it was edited out at some point.

There is one other vague reference to the bomber's actual motives and ideology, a quotation from a Pakistani-American leader who spoke with someone who knew Shahzad (sounds a little vague and hearsay to me), saying, "A year ago he became more introverted, more religious, and more stringent in his views.”

Stringent? Like a strong distaste for nutmeg? Religious? He went to confession daily?

In the most silly point in the article, we’re told:

“Even though his ties to foreign radical groups may be real, he doesn’t exhibit the instincts, training, or traits of a hardened terrorists. Officials note that Shahzad did much out in the open….”

Well, he got away with it up to the time of the bombing, didn’t he? So maybe the problem is that U.S. government officials don’t exhibit the instincts, training, or traits of hardened counter-terrorist experts. Moreover, we know that he got training only during brief visits to Pakistan and so was no veteran fighter. It isn't hard to figure out what happened. The Taliban was thrilled to have a U.S. citizen who knew how to function well enough to succeed. Unlike al-Qaida—or the Muslim Brotherhood and Palestinian groups--they hadn’t spent years building up a network inside the United States.

Now, as a scholarly old-fashioned liberal kind of guy who gives the mass media an even break, I am tempted to suggest that this kind of thing is partly understandable because the story is still unfolding. It is too early to know everything. The media is just being cautious until all the facts are available.

But as we look at Fort Hood and other such incidents the truth seems something different. Much or most of the mass media today basically argues as follows:

Tolerance is good; hatred is bad. Precisely because so many Muslims have been involved in terrorism, Americans might hate Muslims, mistakenly confusing ordinary law-abiding Muslims with revolutionary Islamists who use Islam as the main source of their ideology. Therefore, we must censor the news in order to protect Americans from becoming right-wing bigots forming mobs to burn down the local mosques, and to protect Muslims in America from being massacred in the streets of Connecticut by crazed Islamophobes wearing tee-shirts with American flags on them! Our function is to lie to our audience for their own good. It's wonderful to be so virtuous!

Funny, I thought the media’s function was to tell the truth, report the news, and provide accurate information.

I told you I was old-fashioned.

RubinReports: After Times Square: The Media's Refusal to Discuss Islamism in Terrorism Surpasses Satire

RubinReports: How Sudan Shows the World's Future; Dictator: America is in My Pocket; Hillary Clinton: We Ignore What He Says

How Sudan Shows the World's Future; Dictator: America is in My Pocket; Hillary Clinton: We Ignore What He Says

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By Barry Rubin

You might not care about Sudan but Sudan cares about you. Here's a dictator who--as he murders his own people--openly brags: America is on my side. That interpretation of what the Obama Administration's policies mean is likely to spread.

This is a consequence of a foreign policy that can be summed up as: being tough on friends and soft on enemies. This theme reduces American credibility, loses or weakens friends, and emboldens tyrants. To demonstrate this, a number of examples can be given.

In the enemies' category: Iran, Libya, Sudan, Syria, Venezuela are most obvious. Bolivia, Brazil, China, Turkey, Lebanon, and Pakistan--countries whose current rulers often aren't helpful and side with America's enemies fairly often--also rate special treatment. In the friends category: Honduras and Colombia, Israel, more than a dozen ex-Soviet states and satellites fearing Russia, and India, among others can be listed. Even Western European countries are getting worried about this pattern.*

But what about Sudan? Here's one of the world's most ruthless dictatorships, accused of genocide and certainly guilty of mass murder. Last October I wrote an article prophetically entitled, "How and Why Engagement with Sudan Shows Precisely What’s Wrong with Obama Administration Foreign Policy." and in the previous month, "The Obama Administration Finds Another Dictatorship to Appease; Makes Friends with Sudan."

Now, Nicholas Kristof, who generally is quite sympathetic to Obama's foreign policy, reminds us that all these fears have been realized. He explains: "I’m afraid that Sudan is getting the message that the Obama administration won’t stand up to Khartoum if it doesn’t honor the referendum in southern Sudan."

He added:

“Until he reached the White House, President Obama repeatedly insisted the U.S. apply more pressure on Sudan so as to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe in Darfur and elsewhere. Yet as president, Mr. Obama and his aides have caved, leaving Sudan gloating at American weakness. President Bashir, al-Bashir of Sudan, a man wanted for crimes against humanity in Darfur, has been celebrating...telling a rally in the Blue Nile region: ‘Even America is becoming a member [of my political party]. No one is against our will.’ Memo to Mr. Obama, when a man who has been charged with crimes against humanity tells the world that America is in his pocket, it’s time to review your policy.”

When Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was asked about this on Meet the Press she said something truly remarkable:

"I can’t take anything seriously that Bashir says. He is an indicted war criminal. The United States is very committed to seeing him brought to justice."

She then gave a detailed defense of U.S. policy which Kristof quickly pronounces impressive. The basic theme is that since the United States went easy on Bashir he, too, has lightened up a bit. I don't agree, since Clinton's explanation left out the fact that there could be an alternative policy.

But wait a minute. Clinton is missing an extremely important point. When foreign dictators brag that you are in their pocket they aren't just making propaganda, they may actually believe it. It should be a matter of utmost concern for the United States that aggressive and murderous dictators think they don't have to worry about U.S. policy because it is so soft, appeasing, agreeing with their own world view on several points, and failing to take real international leadership.

And when that happens dictators arrest and murder more people, commit more aggression against their neighbors, and trample on U.S. interests. This is International Affairs 101 but many people seem to need a refresher course.

Clinton and Obama better start paying attention to what Ahmadinejad of Iran, and Putin of Russia, and Chavez of Venezuela, and their counterparts in lots of countries are saying in this regard. They should also pay attention to friendly leaders who express their horror in private, or even in public, about the lack of strong and determined U.S. leadership. Because those basic attitudes are going to determine the world's future for the next decade or more.

Note: *Even this administration is wary of being nice to Cuba and North Korea.

RubinReports: How Sudan Shows the World's Future; Dictator: America is in My Pocket; Hillary Clinton: We Ignore What He Says

Israel Matzav: Good news: Americans monitoring Jewish construction in Jerusalem

Good news: Americans monitoring Jewish construction in Jerusalem

Shavua tov, a good week to everyone.

The United States has taken upon itself to monitor Jewish construction in Jerusalem according to a report in the Hebrew Makor Rishon newspaper.

Top US officials stationed in Israel have taken it upon themselves to monitor Jewish construction in Jerusalem and other areas claimed by the Palestinian Arabs.

According to the Israeli newspaper Makor Rishon, the US ambassador to Israel, the US consul general in Jerusalem and other officials demand regular updates from Israeli ministers associated with building committees.

As a result of that pressure, building permits for thousands of new housing units in Jerusalem have been held up indefinitely. Government and municipal officials have confirmed that there is an unofficial Jewish building freeze in Jerusalem because of the American pressure.

In related news, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday told London-based pan-Arab newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat that Washington had guaranteed him there would be no "provocations" by Israel during the start of US-hosted indirect peace talks scheduled to take place next week.

The Palestinians view Jewish construction in most of Jerusalem as a provocation, and in response have refused to negotiate with Israel.

And you really believe the freeze will end when the ten months are up in September? What could go wrong?

Israel Matzav: Good news: Americans monitoring Jewish construction in Jerusalem
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