Saturday, February 14, 2009

Yemeni Jews tell their story and demand rescue

Yemeni Jews tell their story and demand rescue

Despite numerous government assurances and presidential instructions to protect and relocate the Jewish minority in Raidah village, Amran governorate, the some 400 Yemeni Jewish citizens fear for their lives today more than ever.

After the murder of a prominent figure among the Jewish community, Masha Al-Nahari, 30, the remaining members expressed their concern at the fact that the trial of the murderer has stalled while his tribe is threatening to eliminate the Jews who remain in Yemen.

The majority of the Jewish men in Amran work in trade and vocational jobs such as cobblers or silversmiths. However, for the last two months they could not practice their usual routine and their children are no longer going to the community school fearing that they will be targeted by extremists from the neighboring villages.

Source: Yemen Times (Yemen), February 8, 2009

Posted at: 2009-02-08

Friday, February 13, 2009

U.S. Intelligence - NIE Report was wrong: Iran is building a bomb

The "experts" are not embarrassed to admit (with a high probability of confidence) that the National Insurance Estimate was wrong. It never had any chance of being right, because it was a political concoction put together by some narrow minded careerists.   

U.S. now sees Iran as pursuing nuclear bomb

In a reversal since a 2007 report, U.S. officials expect the Islamic Republic to reach development milestones this year.
By Greg Miller

February 12, 2009

Reporting from Washington — Little more than a year after U.S. spy agencies concluded that Iran had halted work on a nuclear weapon, the Obama administration has made it clear that it believes there is no question that Tehran is seeking the bomb.

In his news conference this week, President Obama went so far as to describe Iran's "development of a nuclear weapon" before correcting himself to refer to its "pursuit" of weapons capability.

Obama's nominee to serve as CIA director, Leon E. Panetta, left little doubt about his view last week when he testified on Capitol Hill. "From all the information I've seen," Panetta said, "I think there is no question that they are seeking that capability."

The language reflects the extent to which senior U.S. officials now discount a National Intelligence Estimate issued in November 2007 that was instrumental in derailing U.S. and European efforts to pressure Iran to shut down its nuclear program.

As the administration moves toward talks with Iran, Obama appears to be sending a signal that the United States will not be drawn into a debate over Iran's intent.

"When you're talking about negotiations in Iran, it is dangerous to appear weak or naive," said Joseph Cirincione, a nuclear weapons expert and president of the Ploughshares Fund, an anti-proliferation organization based in Washington.

Cirincione said the unequivocal language also worked to Obama's political advantage. "It guards against criticism from the right that the administration is underestimating Iran," he said.

Iran has long maintained that it aims to generate electricity, not build bombs, with nuclear power. But Western intelligence officials and nuclear experts increasingly view those claims as implausible.

U.S. officials said that although no new evidence had surfaced to undercut the findings of the 2007 estimate, there was growing consensus that it provided a misleading picture and that the country was poised to reach crucial bomb-making milestones this year.

Obama's top intelligence official, Dennis C. Blair, the director of national intelligence, is expected to address mounting concerns over Iran's nuclear program in testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee today.

When it was issued, the NIE stunned the international community. It declared that U.S. spy agencies judged "with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program."

U.S. intelligence officials later said the conclusion was based on evidence that Iran had stopped secret efforts to design a nuclear warhead around the time of the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

Often overlooked in the NIE, officials said, was that Iran had not stopped its work on other crucial fronts, including missile design and uranium enrichment. Many experts contend that these are more difficult than building a bomb.

Iran's advances on enrichment have become a growing source of alarm. Since 2004, the country has gone from operating a few dozen centrifuges -- cylindrical machines used to enrich uranium -- to nearly 6,000, weapons experts agree.

By November, Iran had produced an estimated 1,400 pounds of low-enriched uranium, not nearly enough to fuel a nuclear energy reactor, but perilously close to the quantity needed to make a bomb.

A report issued last month by the Institute for Science and International Security concluded that "Iran is moving steadily toward a breakout capability and is expected to reach that milestone during the first half of 2009." That means it would have enough low-enriched uranium to be able to quickly convert it to weapons-grade material.

Tehran's progress has come despite CIA efforts to sabotage shipments of centrifuge components on their way into Iran and entice the country's nuclear scientists to leave.

Iran still faces considerable hurdles. The country touted its launch of a 60-pound satellite into orbit this month. Experts said Iran's rockets would need to be able to carry more than 2,000 pounds to deliver a first-generation nuclear bomb.

And there are indications that the U.S. and Iran are interested in holding serious diplomatic discussions for the first time in three decades. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said this week that his nation was "ready to hold talks based on mutual respect," and Obama indicated that his administration would look for opportunities "in the coming months."

Hassan Qashqavi, spokesman for Iran's Foreign Ministry, on Wednesday warned the U.S. not to wait for Iranian presidential elections this year, because ultimate authority rests with supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

He also said Iran would be patient.

"Since a new administration came to power in the U.S., we do not want to burn the opportunity of President Obama and give him time to change the reality on the ground," Qashqavi said.

But experts said Iran was now close enough to nuclear weapons capability that it may be less susceptible to international pressure.

"They've made more progress in the last five years than in the previous 10," Cirincione said.

Special correspondent Ramin Mostaghim in Tehran contributed to this report.

Iran - Don't wish for a Khatami victory

By Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed
A feeling of enthusiasm and joyful concern comes with the announcement of former Iranian President Mohamed Khatami's intention of running in the forthcoming presidential elections.

After a long line of confrontational leaders, Khatami is perceived by many as an example of a moderate peace-loving Iranian politician. However, despite this being a correct assessment, betting on Khatami in itself is wrong not because of the reformative leader himself, but rather because of the Iranian regime.
Iran's political infrastructure is designed in a way that does not entitle an elected President like Khatami – who is affiliated with a large, popular, political trend, but is weak authoritatively- to run Iran's higher political policy in a way he deems appropriate. Evidence of this was seen in Khatami's last presidential term which was riddled with many setbacks to the point of humiliation by extremist parties within the regime. Things got bad to the degree that newspapers and magazines affiliated with Khatami were forced to close down, while candidates from his party were banned from participation, and his employees harassed until he departed the presidency, achieving nothing of what he promised his voters.
However, when it comes to a character like current Iranian president Ahmadinejad; he indeed belongs to the ruling regime and the Iranian revolutionary guards which today enjoys more power and influence then any other time in history, interfering in both domestic and foreign affairs. Moreover his is closer to the leader who yields the most power in Iran; supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, therefore Ahmadinejad remaining in power is better than waiting for a President like Khatami.
The upcoming Iranian elections are not genuine, but are designed in line with the needs of the Iranian fundamentalist regime, which denies access to those outside of it. This regime has reached a level of fanaticism that it blocked the candidacy of two thousand Islamists for running for parliament because they were perceived as reformers like Khatami. Moreover, the elections were so restrictive that candidates were not allowed to debate or appear in Television adverts.
We appreciate the attitudes and opinions of reformists, like Khatami, and their liberal spirit that allows for realistic communication on all issues. This includes the difficult issues such as their nuclear program, their foreign presence, and the strained diplomatic relations. And so even during [times of] dispute, we can undoubtedly coexist with a regime that is headed by Khatami, which is not the case with previous hard-liners.
A lack of trust is the main problem between the us and the Iranians; they say that their development of nuclear energy will be used on peaceful grounds, whereas all indications confirm that it will be used for military purposes. Looking at what Iran is doing politically and military in our region makes for a grim picture.
The reformative Islamists [like Khatami] are the best option. However it will not satisfy us much even if they do attain power at the forthcoming spring elections, because they are a wingless dove. Whether or not an agreement is to be reached, it must be reached with the true people in power. 
Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed
the general manager of Al -Arabiya television. Mr. Al Rashed is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al- Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine, Al Majalla. He is also a senior Columnist in the daily newspapers of Al Madina and Al Bilad. He is a US post-graduate degree in mass communications. He has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

Inside the Islamic republc of Iran: Faud

My guess is that fraud - of all kinds, is far more widespread than Muhammadi has been able to document. The pattern of fraudulent manipulation of both information and finances is familiar from the former USSR.
Fraud in the Islamic Republic Regime

Majid Mohammadi
February 11th, 2009 
The totalitarian rule of the Shiite Clergy in Iran has survived in the past three decades through pretensions to sacredness and by creating enemies, playing the role of the victim, making embarrassing scenes, psychological projection, fraud, mendacity, corruption, suppression, and terror. These fraudulent behaviors are an inseparable part of the rule of the clergy because this regime, which is not in power through the votes of the people but which holds itself out to be the representative of God on earth, has no choice but to resort to fraud in order to survive. Although the history of the fraudulent ways of authoritarian regimes is as old as the social life of humanity and, despite the fact that the literature of political opposition is replete with references to the regime's lies, the fraudulent methods and tactics of those at the very summit of power in the Islamic Republic have rarely been discussed.
The unspoken ideological Machiavellism of the totalitarian "Rule of the Jursiprudent," falls somewhere in the area between morality and politics. In the final analysis, in this regime, all principles have been reduced to one: the preservation of the interests and preferences of the ruling clergy within the framework of a totalitarian regime. In this way, nothing will be beneath the clergy's standards of conduct and any principle or rule will be open to violation. Law, morality, and even Shiite religious law would not curb the clergy's fraudulent ways. The ruling clerics have even used the survival instinct and external threats as an excuse for continuing their rule.
In Iran, fraud is not committed by the clergy alone; it is, in fact, an inseparable part of the social fabric of Iranians' lives. Among Iranians, those who have or desire a larger share of power, wealth, and social standing, naturally commit more fraud, especially through shutting down or undermining establishments or apparatuses that can measure fraud, such as the independent media, institutions with oversight, or civil institutions. Tolerance, on a daily basis, of the clergy's fraudulent ways itself results from the people's awareness that they themselves behave in the same way in their daily lives. However, the ruling clergy has raised the commitment or incidence of fraud to unexpected, complex, and unbelievable proportions. That is why it is necessary to analyze this phenomenon.
There are two questions we must ask. First, is this fraudulent modus operandi of the clerical establishment and others dependent upon a time-limited phenomenon that is part and parcel of the period of rule of the Islamic Republic, or is it related to the culture and tradition of Shiite clergy? And second, how do these fraudulent deeds take place and how new and innovative are the methods used in perpetrating them?
Institutionalized Fraud
Fraud consists of hiding the truth or turning it upside down with the goal of misleading the people, trickery, hypocrisy, deception, entrapment, and cheating. The Shiite clergy has never announced that it is telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. The clergy's goal has been to carry out Islamic religious orders, and it considers every tool that can be used to do that as acceptable. On the basis of fundamental principles in Shiite jurisprudence and religious teachings such as taqiyeh,[1] expediency, hardship, and distress, any action is acceptable in self-preservation as well as in preservation of the "realm of Islam." Thus fraud, in all its dimensions and variety, is extremely prevalent in the Shiite culture.
The main occupation of the Shiite clergy is "propagation" or the production and dissemination of propaganda. When, propaganda tools are combined with the goal of gaining absolute power, wealth, and high social standing in society, and with the claim of possession of absolute truth, then propaganda will be directed toward hiding the truth, spinning lies, and committing fraud. In reality, altering the truth by putting emphasis on desired goals, remaining silent on unpleasant points, choosing information or news for dissemination on the basis of ideological considerations and with the goal of provoking certain feelings among the people; these are among the principles of any type of propaganda, be it political, commercial, or religious. When rumors are combined with turning a blind eye to the truth or actively hiding it, then fraud comes about.
The difficulty of discerning what is pure from what is impure by a large sector of the public, the necessity of trusting one another for the purpose of survival of social life, the inclination of many human beings to being taken in or duped, especially under difficult living conditions (when a blind eye is turned to lies), prepare the necessary social and psychological grounds for fraud by the rulers. In Iranian society, the trust placed by the religious public in the clerical leaders has made the ground even more fertile for the commission of fraud by the ruling clergy.
Manifestations or Models of Fraud

The fraudulent activities of the Islamic Republic regime can be observed clearly in several of its behavioral models or manifestations. The first such model or manifestation is the "doctoring" and alteration of numbers, statistics, and indices. For example, the Ahmadinejad government first tried to announce the unemployment statistics to be lower than it truly was. When it was criticized by experts, his government then sought to make the level of unemployment lower by altering the very definition of unemployment. Based on the new definition of unemployment put forth by the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs in connection with the fall in unemployment statistics, every person who works even only one hour per week is considered employed.[2] In the course of every election, based on their different ideals and goals, the concerned organizations within the Islamic Republic have presented contradictory information about the country's population. The statistics on the country's population are increased and decreased in accordance with the need, respectively, of making the number of participants in elections and the votes cast by supporters of authoritarianism appear higher, and the votes cast by the regime's critic—if their candidates are approved by the Council of Guardians—lower. During the rule of Khamenei/Ahmadinejad, on a monthly, as well as annual basis, every governmental organization announces a specific inflation rate, based on its own specific definition of inflation. For example, the statistics presented by the Central Bank are different from those announced by the Ministry of Economy and Finance as well as from those announced by the speaker of the government. Instead of striving to lower inflation itself, the responsible government officials lower the inflation "rate" by altering and eliminating from the equation certain goods and then present the "doctored" rate as the official rate to the public.
The debate on privatization is another such example. From 2005 through 2008, officials in the Ahmadinejad government have presented three different sets of numbers of transfers from the public to the private sector in the Hashemi and Khatami governments. The first such occasion was on February 24, 2007, when the newspaper Iran, quoting the president, announced the total amount of transfers in the years 1991-2005 to have been 3,500 billion Toumans ($3.6 Billion USD) and compared it with the amount of transfers during the first two years of his own administration. Less than two years after these clear statements from the president, on December 21, 2008, Ahmadinejad's Minister of Economy and Finance announced the total amount of transfers by the "construction and reform governments" in the years 1991-2005 to have been 2,750 billion Toumans ($2.8 Billion USD). Only four days later, in Qom, by deducting 2,000 billion Toumans ($206 Million USD), Ahmadinejad claimed that, in the previous governments, as announced by himself in the period from February 24 through March 20, only 52,500 Billion Toumans ($54.25 Million USD) were transferred from the public sector to the private sector.[3]
The second such manifestation or model concerns the engineering of information and news. On the one hand, the regime has monopolized the media. On the other hand, the information and the news it presents are only items and matters that confirm the regime's ideology and suppress its opponents. The Islamic Republic regime has reduced the dissemination of news and information to propaganda and this propaganda system is used in all print and electronic media. In the regime's policy toward the media, based not on belief but on a set of directives, news or reports are not presented to society without major structural, expressive, and even grammatical alterations. For example, one of these directives is that all negative news related to the West, especially the United States, and all positive news about Iranian society should be presented in every news segment. Thus, Iranian citizens are not to become familiar with the positive achievements of Western societies in the social, cultural, and scientific arena.
Yet another such manifestation or model is labeling or choosing names. In choosing names, all positive titles belong to the regime and all negative titles belong to the regime's opponents. Those who support the regime and the ruling clergy are called Fundamentalists, even though they do not believe in any principle and there is no law or rule in the country which they have not violated. However, the regime's opponents are labeled hooligans and extremists. Keyhan newspaper, considered the mouthpiece of the Supreme Leader (Ayatollah Khamenei) and his establishment, portrays all persons who do not directly follow Khamanei's orders, as well as those issued by those around him, as anti-revolutionaries, spies, hypocrites, drug addicts, womanizers, fearful, cowardly, and materialistic.
The fourth manifestation or model involves the re-making of existing concepts and the use of new and misleading concepts that legitimize repression and denigrate democracy. Examples of these, as used in the Iranian leaders' speech and literature, are: ta'zir[4], the new name for torture; confession, the new name for "admission" under duress; the leadership of the world of Islam, as the new title for the leaders of the Islamic Republic regime; "parliamentary coup d'état," as a new title for winning an election inside the country; and "overthrowing" as a new title for any type of domestic political opposition. The clerical leaders consider the regime's capital, Tehran, the most important metropolis in the entire Islamic world and their own rule as the rule of justice. From their perspective, Iran under the absolute rule of the clergy is the freest country and the best democracy in the world at the same time that this regime ranks at the top of every chart in violating human rights and the fundamental tenets of democracy.
Plagiarism constitutes the fifth manifestation or model of this fraud. This means that the leaders of the Islamic Republic give themselves and their rule credit for all national achievements, even if they played no role in achieving them. It is not enough for the political leaders to hold on to absolute power and a large part of society's wealth. They want to get credit for all scientific and cultural achievements and terminology as well. For example Gholam-'Ali Haddad-'Adel, the former leader of the Islamic Consultative Assembly, referred to Khamenei as the "Father of Encyclopedias" in Iran, solely because, in that year, Khamenei had noted the importance of encyclopedias.[5] In this process, the leaders appear to have completely ignored the fact that, in addition to Avicenna's Daneshnameh 'Alaï (Encyclopedia of Philosophical Sciences), Imam Fakhr Razi's Jame'-ol-'Olum (Compendium of Sciences), Ghotboddin Shirazi's Dorrat-o-Taj (Pearl of the Crown), and the encyclopedias produced during the rule of Nassereddin Shah Qajar, that such encyclopedias were produced in the period immediately preceding the revolution as well. The Encyclopedia Iranica and Encyclopedia Islamica projects began in 1975 under the direction of Dr. Ehsan Yarshater and a major Persian Dictionary project began in 1966 under the direction of Gholam-Hossein Mossaheb and Reza Aghsa. Normally, a title such as the "Father of Encyclopedias" is bestowed upon those who have dedicated their lives to science, not upon a political leader who, in his meetings with various groups makes do with some general comments.

None of the above-mentioned manifestations or models can be considered "innovations". Rather, through some novel ideas and doctoring, they have been Islamicized and Iranianized. All these models have been used by previous authoritarian and totalitarian regimes and Iran's current leaders have learned much from those who came before them. The new struggle against imperialism and political liberalism has quickly placed Iran's ruling clergy among the ranks of authoritarian and totalitarian regimes, such as those in Eastern Europe before the fall of Communism. Iran's leading clerics imitated the Eastern European leaders' ways, adding to them Iranian techniques with an Islamic bend.
In re-making these models, good use has been made of Islamic ideology, political literature of Fascists, Communist, and military ("Junta"-style) regimes throughout the world as well as of psychology of political and commercial propaganda in the West, all of which have been presented within a "native" (Iranian) and religious framework. The clergy's ideological apparatus, which, after the Revolution, could not justify the revolutionary movement and the negation of the monarchic rule, has been utilized to justify the absolute rule of the clergy and come up with tactics for ensuring its survival. The Islamic regime's propaganda machine has been constantly forming and updating the listed models, which have been rendered more complex with the aid of social changes.
Portraying imperialism as the "Satan" and "global dominance" and applying Quranic concepts on the basis of such ideas, the theory of "cultural raid," calling the "cleansing" of university professors and students a "cultural revolution," using Islamic legal concepts, such as ta'zir and "confession" to refer to torture and admission to facts under duress, applying all the qualities of a sultan to the "Jurisprudent" in Iranian political literature, and using negative Quranic interpretations for labeling opponents and critics are among the important innovations of the Islamic Republic's propaganda machine.
[1]According to the principle of taqiyeh, when expedient, dissimulation and lying is allowed. For example, when admitting to an enemy that one is a Shiite Muslim would mean that one could be killed, in such a circumstance, it is acceptable to lie.
[2] Tabnak, December 21, 2008.
[3] Aftab-e Yazd Daily, December 27, 2008.
[4] Punishment
[5] Keyhan [newspaper], December 25, 2008.

Iran's death to Israel campaign - they really intend to wipe out Israel - and the United States!

What Teitelbaum does not mention is that in the same speech, Mahmoud Ahmadinejed insisted that there would also be a "world without the United States" and that the same crowds that scream "Death to Israel" also scream "Death to America." This may seem fatuous, but evidently they are quite serious about it.

A Threat in Any Language

By Joshua Teitelbaum

The leader of Iran wants to "wipe Israel off the map." Was he misquoted? Not by a long shot. By Joshua Teitelbaum.

During the past several years, Iranian leaders—most prominently President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad—have repeatedly called for the destruction of Israel and the Jewish people. Certain journalists and Iran experts interpret some of these statements to be simple expressions of dissatisfaction with the Israeli presence in the West Bank or eastern Jerusalem or with the current Israeli government and its policies.

"Ahmadinejad did not say he was going to wipe Israel off the map, because no such idiom exists in Persian," insists Juan Cole of the University of Michigan, who argues that Ahmadinejad was not calling for the destruction of Israel. Jonathan Steele writes in the Guardian that Ahmadinejad was simply remarking that "this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time. . . . He was not making a military threat. He was calling for an end to the occupation of Jerusalem at some point in the future. The 'page of time' phrase suggests he did not expect it to happen soon."

Scholars continue to soft-pedal the Iranian president's words. Professor Stephen Walt, previously the academic dean of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and coauthor of The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy with Professor John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago, told a Jerusalem audience in early June 2008: "I don't think he is inciting to genocide."

In reality, the intent behind Ahmadinejad's language is clear. Those who seek to excuse the Iranian leader should be challenged when they use the tools of scholarship to obfuscate these extreme and deliberate statements. What emerges from a comprehensive analysis of what Ahmadinejad said— and how it has been interpreted in Iran, including by leading blogs and news outlets, some official—is that the Iranian president was calling not just for "regime change" in Jerusalem but for the actual, physical destruction of the state of Israel. Ahmadinejad's language constitutes a call for genocide, the destruction of the Jewish state and its residents.

The Iranian government itself reinforces this understanding with its own rendering of Ahmadinejad's slogans on posters and billboards and during official parades. Moreover, examining them in context demonstrates beyond a doubt that when Iranian leaders use the euphemism "Zionist regime" or "the Jerusalem-occupying regime," they are definitely referring to the state of Israel and not to the present government. Iranian leaders simply follow the timeworn practice in the Arab world of referring to the "Zionist regime" in an attempt to avoid dignifying Israel by using its name. They are not talking about a nondirected, natural historical process that will end with Israel's demise; rather, they are actively advocating Israel's destruction and have made it clear that they have the will and the means to effect it.


In an address to the "World without Zionism" conference held in Tehran on October 26, 2005, Ahmadinejad said:

Our dear Imam [Khomeini] ordered that this Jerusalem-occupying regime [Israel] must be erased from the page of time. This was a very wise statement. (Va Imam-e aziz-e ma farmudand ke in rezhim-e eshghalgar-e Qods bayad az safhe-ye ruzegar mahv shaved. In jomle besyar hakimane ast.)

New York Times Tehran correspondent Nazila Fathi translated the statement as Israel "must be wiped off the map," a nonliteral translation that nevertheless conveys the meaning of the original: the destruction of Israel.

It cannot be credibly denied: the Iranian president has persistently called not just for "regime change" in Jerusalem but for the actual, physical destruction of the state of Israel.

Soft-pedaling Ahmadinejad's call for the destruction of Israel, Cole told the Times that all Ahmadinejad had said was that "he hoped its regime, i.e., a Jewish-Zionist state occupying Jerusalem, would collapse."

Official Iranian representatives and organs have since based their slogans on Ahmadinejad's statement, loosely translating the statement as "Israel should be wiped off the face of the world." This is evident in photographs of banners and signs in parades and ceremonies. Even the Iranian newscaster who introduced the report on the "World without Zionism" conference used the word "Israel" (instead of the "Jerusalem-occupying regime") and also the word "world" (instead of the "page of time"), rendering Ahmadinejad's statement as "erasing Israel, this disgraceful stain, from the world."

Although Iranian leaders are well aware that they are watched by the international media and occasionally soften their statements accordingly, they are less careful in internal forums and events. But when Ahmadinejad punctuates his speech before a large crowd with "Death to Israel" (marg bar Esraiil ), this is no longer open to various interpretations. He is openly calling for the destruction of a country, not a regime.


In the same speech of October 26, 2005, Ahmadinejad returned to the theme of Israel as dirty vermin that must be eradicated:

Soon this stain of disgrace will be cleaned from the garment of the world of Islam, and this is attainable. (Be-zudi in lake-ye nang ra az damane-ye donya-ye Islam pak khahad kard, va in shodani'st.)

To remove any doubt in the mind of the Persian reader that Ahmadinejad is referring to Israel, the Iranian president's official site ( interpolates the word "Esraiil" in its report on the speech to explain the expression "stain of disgrace."

A common motif of incitement to genocide is the dehumanization of the target population. The Nazi weekly Der Stürmer portrayed Jews as parasites and locusts. In the early 1990s, Hutu propaganda in Rwanda against the Tutsis described them as cockroaches. Before Saddam Hussein attacked the Iraqi Shiite population in 1991, his Baath Party newspaper characterized them as "monkey-faced people." Similarly, Iran's Ahmadinejad has called Israeli Jews "cattle," "bloodthirsty barbarians," and "criminals."

The theme of the Israeli as a germ or microbe is a common one with the Iranian president. In his speech before a crowd in Bandar Abbas on February 20, 2008, Ahmadinejad said:

In the Middle East, they [the global powers] have created a black and filthy microbe called the Zionist regime, so they could use it to attack the peoples of the region, and by using this excuse, they want to advance their schemes for the Middle East. (Dar mantaqe-ye Khavar-e Miyane niz jarsum-e siyah va kasifi be-nam-e rezhim-e sahyonisti dorost karde-and ta be-jan-e mardom-e mantaqe biandazand va be-behane-ye an siyasatha-ye khod-ra dar Khavar-e Miyane pish bebarand.)

On the occasion last year of the sixtieth anniversary of Israel's founding, Ahmadinejad stated that "global arrogance established the Zionist regime sixty years ago." The Islamic Republic News Agency reported that "President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Thursday labeled the Zionist regime as a 'stinking corpse' and said those who think they can revive the corpse of this fabricated and usurper regime are mistaken."

According to Ahmadinejad, ridding the world of the germ of Israel is possible and imminent. On April 14, 2006, he insisted that Israel was "heading towards annihilation." He added that Israel was

a dried, rotten tree that will collapse with a single storm. (Derakht-e khoshkide va puside'i ast ke ba yek tufan dar ham khahad shekast.)

Referring to the United States (the "Great Satan") and Israel (the "Little Satan"), Ahmadinejad said at a military parade on April 17, 2008:

The region and the world are prepared for great changes and for being cleansed of satanic powers. (Mantaqe- va jehan amade-ye tahavolat-e bozorg va pak shodan az doshmanan-e ahrimani'st.)

Ahmadinejad was fully prepared to make his assertions about Jews and Israel in the Western press as well. In an interview that appeared in the French daily Le Monde on February 5, 2008, he said the Jews of Israel are "a people falsified; invented, [the people of Israel] will not last; they must leave the territory." Again, this is not a call for a change of government or new policies. It is clear he believes that Israelis will not endure and will not continue to stay on the territory where they live. This is a call to remove Israel's Jewish population from the country, either by ethnic cleansing or by physical destruction.


Although certain Western commentators seek to whitewash Ahmadinejad's statements on Israel, pro- and anti-regime Iranians (and others in the region) have no doubt that the Iranian president has been referring to the destruction of Israel.

"Soon this stain of disgrace will be cleaned from the garment of the world of Islam, and this is attainable."

Resalat, a conservative Iranian daily, published an editorial on October 22, 2006, titled "Preparations for the Great War," reflecting on an Ahmadinejad speech two days earlier. "It must not be forgotten that the great war is ahead of us, perhaps tomorrow, or in a few months, or even a few years," the editorial read. "The nation of Muslims must prepare for the great war, so as to completely wipe out the Zionist regime, and remove this cancerous growth."

One anti-regime blog stated: "In every Internet site that I visit today (for example BBC or Radio-Farda) or the satellite radio and television news stations that I listen to, the first news item is the pearls of wisdom issued by Mr. Ahmadinejad regarding the countdown to the destruction of Israel."

Another Persian-language blog critical of Israel quoted Ahmadinejad and then asked its readers, "What have we done to erase this Israel from the scene of time?"

In the Ham-Mihan Forum, a question was raised about Ahmadinejad's declaration that the countdown toward Israel's destruction had begun. Among the seventy-one responses: "My opinion is that first you [Ahmadinejad] should fix up your own country, and then you can say that Israel should be destroyed. The people in Iran don't have bread and we are concerned with Palestine."

An Iranian newspaper editorial read: "The nation of Muslims must prepare for the great war, so as to completely wipe out the Zionist regime, and remove this cancerous growth."

"I wish that all of this energy that is devoted to the destruction of Israel would be directed towards the destruction of drug addiction, poverty, corruption, and prostitution."

Bloggers at Imam Sadegh University called for a boycott of Israeli products, with the following message: "Dear bloggers: If you would like to do so, you can take the first steps towards obliterating Israel from the map of the world."

Ahmadinejad's statement at the "World without Zionism" conference is widely quoted in blogs by those supporting the statement, those critical of the statement, and those who support the statement but question the timing. Persian-language bloggers all agree, however, that "the Jerusalem-occupying regime must be erased from the page of time" means the physical destruction of the state of Israel.

Even before Ahmadinejad spoke about wiping Israel off the map, the Iranian regime used such expressions without leaving any doubt about what they meant. A banner calling for Israel's elimination was draped across a Shahab-3 missile during a 2003 military parade, for example. The Iranian regime itself has clarified that such expressions about Israel's future do not describe a long-term historical process, in which the Israeli state collapses like the former Soviet Union, but rather the actual annihilation of Israel as a result of a military strike. The Shahab- 3 missile has a range of eight hundred miles or more and can reach Israel from Iranian territory.

Michael Axworthy, who served as the head of the Iran section of Britain's Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 1998–2000, rejects the notion that Ahmadinejad has been mistranslated and misinterpreted: "The formula had been used before by Khomeini and others, and had been translated by representatives of the Iranian regime as 'wiped off the map.' Some of the dispute that has arisen over what exactly Ahmadinejad meant by it has been rather bogus. When the slogan appeared draped over missiles in military parades, that meaning was pretty clear."


Iran's highest political authority is Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who succeeded Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1989. Khamenei has made statements about Israel similar to Ahmadinejad's. In a televised sermon on December 15, 2000, he declared, "Iran's position, which was first expressed by the Imam [Khomeini] and stated several times by those responsible, is that the cancerous tumor called Israel must be uprooted from the region."

"Dear bloggers: If you would like to do so, you can take the first steps towards obliterating Israel from the map of the world."

A month later, on January 15, he stated: "It is the mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to erase Israel from the map of the region." Hossein Shariatmadari, a Khamenei confidant who serves as one of his major mouthpieces, wrote an editorial in the Iranian daily Kayhan on October 30, 2005, in which he argued, "We declare explicitly that we will not be satisfied with anything less than the complete obliteration of the Zionist regime from the political map of the world."

Ayatollah Ahmad Janati, a member of Ahmadinejad's inner circle and chairman of the Guardian Council of the Constitution, told reporters during a celebration of the anniversary of the Islamic revolution that every year the crowds are bigger and the slogans more enthusiastic. He added, "The blind enemies should see that the wish of these people is the death of America and Israel."

Mohammad-Ali Ramin refers to himself, as does the press, as an adviser to Ahmadinejad. The secretary of the political committee of the Rayeheh Khosh-Khedmat Party, which supports the president, he is a well-known Holocaust denier and is believed to be behind the president's statements on that issue. On June 9, 2006, according to the reformist Internet daily Rooz, Ramin told students in Rasht:

Among the Jews there have always been those who killed God's prophets and who opposed justice and righteousness. Historically, there are many accusations against the Jews. For example, it was said that they were the source for such deadly diseases as the plague and typhus. This is because the Jews are very filthy people. For a time, people also said that they poisoned wells belonging to Christians and thus killed them.

Ramin does not even bother to cover up his anti-Semitism by using "Zionists" instead of "Jews."

Ayatollah Hussein Nuri Hamadani, a leading religious authority associated with the regime, told a meeting with the Mahdaviyat (messianic) Studies Institute in April 2005, "One should fight the Jews and vanquish them so that the conditions for the advent of the Hidden Imam will be met."


Finally, it is instructive to examine the view of the Shiite militia Hezbollah toward Israel for an indication of Iranian intentions. Hezbollah was founded in 1982 with the deployment of Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards in Lebanon's Beqaa Valley and the training of its first cadre; its first governing council was established by the Iranian ambassador to Damascus, Ali Akbar Mohtashemi. In its founding political platform, Hezbollah is clear that it takes its orders from Tehran: "We abide by the orders of one single wise and just leadership . . . personified by Khomeini."

Take note of the statement of Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary-general of Hezbollah. In 2002, he disclosed his own organization's genocidal intent when he declared:

Islamic prophecies and not only Jewish prophecies declare that this state [Israel] will come into being, and all the Jews of the world will gather from all corners of the world in occupied Palestine. But this will not be so their false messiah [al-Dajjal] can rule in the world, but so that God can save you the trouble of running them down all over the world. And then the battle will be decisive and crushing.

The statements of Iran's proxies and its leaders, particularly President Ahmadinejad, leave no doubt. They constitute incitement to genocide of the people of Israel. They are alarmingly similar to the coded statements of incitement that preceded the Rwandan genocide of the Tutsis in 1994 and should therefore alarm all peace-loving people.

There is ample legal basis to prosecute Ahmadinejad in the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court for direct and public incitement to commit genocide and crimes against humanity.

Special to the Hoover Digest. This article is adapted from a longer, fully referenced version available from the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (

Co-published by Rowman & Littlefield and the Hoover Press is Preventing Surprise Attacks: Intelligence Reform in the Wake of 9/11, by Richard A. Posner. To order, call the National Book Network at 800.462.6420 or visit


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Muslim Cleric: Divorcing wives OK; 'What are we, Christians?'

Egyptian Cleric Hassan Abu Al-Ashbal: It Is Okay to Divorce Your Wife Just Like It Is Okay to Get Rid of an Animal that Drives You Nuts

Following is an excerpt from a TV program hosted by Egyptian cleric Hassan Abu Al-Ashbal, which aired on Al-Nas TV on December 25, 2008.

Hassan Abu Al-Ashbal: What's the point of having an animal you can ride, if it drives you nuts? The distance it takes you – you could cover in a bus for a quarter of an Egyptian pound, but you have to spend 100 pounds on this animal. Sell it, and get rid of it. Would anyone blame you for selling it? Would anyone say: "Shame on him for selling it"? It's only an animal.

If a man is completely fed up with his apartment, because he has bad neighbors, and the apartment is falling apart – would anyone blame him for selling it, and say: "Shame on you, how can you sell it? This is where you were born and raised." This apartment does not suit him anymore. I have bad neighbors, and I don't feel good in it.

The same goes for the woman. If a woman has such bad character that her husband does not feel comfortable with her, there is nothing to prevent him from divorcing her. What are we, Christians?!

Muslims: Beware of Valentine's Day

Guard against St. Valentine's day O sons of the prophet!. According to Egyptian cleric Hazem Shuman:

  "In a few days time, a very dangerous virus will attack the body of the nation. What virus? Is it AIDS? No, something more dangerous. Something more dangerous than Ebola, which dissolves the human body, more dangerous than cholera, which killed half of Europe a few centuries ago... I have come tonight to warn all boys and girls about an extremely dangerous virus, which is about to attack the hearts of the nation's youth, and to destroy our relations with God. We must confront this Valentine virus!"

Alack and Alas! Shuman warned:

,,, everything red will become more expensive" ... one red thing will become cheaper: the blood of Muslims. All this is the result of the sins committed by Muslim youth."

Heaven forfend!

Khaled Abu Toameh surveys the Palestinian situation after Gaza

Who can doubt that this is how it really is, beyond the propaganda?  

February 1, 2009

A Minority Report from the West Bank and Gaza

 Khaled Abu Toameh is not your typical Palestinian journalist. He began his career at one of Yasser Arafat's newspapers and today he writes for the Jerusalem Post. He has produced video for European TV stations, and even blogged for a while at Commentary Magazine in New York. It's impossible to cram Toameh into a convenient ideological box, though that doesn't stop some people from trying.

I met him briefly a few weeks ago on my trip to Israel sponsored by the American Jewish Committee when he gave a talk to me and my colleagues and answered some questions at the end. I'm reproducing the entire transcript here because I think he deserves a full hearing.

Hamas, Fatah, Americans, Israelis, Europeans, Arab governments, American foreign correspondents – just about everybody involved in any way with the conflict comes under some well-deserved fire. There's something here for just about everybody to like and dislike, and I'm publishing what he said without quote-shopping or cherry-picking his words for convenience.

Khaled Abu Toameh: When I finished high school the PLO offices hired me as a correspondent, and I worked for a PLO newspaper for seven years during which time I attended university in Jerusalem. After I graduated I had to make a decision: do I go back and work for the PLO, or do I try to become a real journalist? It took me about two seconds to make that decision. I decided to work with the international media and the Israeli media.

When I say "work with the international media," what does that mean? We have hundreds of foreign journalists who come to this part of the world – every year, every month, and sometimes every week – to cover the stories here. Now there are two stories here. There's the one that's happening inside Israel, and there's the one that's happening inside the Palestinian areas.

Fortunately for us, Israel is an open country that allows people to write whatever they want, criticize the prime minister, the defense minister, the IDF. You can write all these horrible things against Israel and still walk in downtown Jerusalem. But when it comes to covering the Palestinian territories, the story is completely different. You can't wake up in the morning as a foreign journalist and drive on your own into a Palestinian village. You can't just show up and say "Good morning, I work for the New York Times, can I speak to Hamas please." It doesn't work like that for a number of reasons. You don't know the language and need a translator. You don't know your way around. And most important, it's not safe.

So foreign journalists who want to cover stories in the Palestinian areas rely on fixers. And that's where I fit in. For the past twenty years or so I've been working as a fixer, translator, advisor – call it whatever you want – with most of the foreign media. And of course in this work with the international media I got myself a number of jobs, one of which I'm still doing. I even have colleagues here. For the past twenty years I've been working with NBC News, and I was blogging for Commentary Magazine also. I was writing for U.S. News and World Report, occasionally for the Wall Street Journal, and a number of British tabloids. In the course of this work with the international media I became a writer and analyst of Palestinian affairs and a film producer for the BBC.

About eight years ago, when the Second Intifada started, I started writing for the Jerusalem Post about Palestinian issues. And I still work with the international media. My job is to serve as the eyes and ears of the international media.

Some of you may be wondering what's going on with this guy who started working as a journalist for the PLO and ends up writing for a Jewish newspaper. Some people ask me "when did you become a Zionist? When did you become pro-Israel?" Well, I'm not pro-anything other than the facts and the truth. As a journalist I don't have any problem working for any newspaper that provides me with a platform. I don't care if it's Jewish, Christian, Muslim, or even Buddhist.

And to be honest with you, I find it ironic that as an Arab Muslim living in this part of the world that I have to work for a Jewish newspaper or for the international media in order to be able to practice any kind of real journalism. Why? Because we don't have any free media. In the Palestinian areas we didn't have it when I was working there in the 1970s and 1980s, we didn't get one when we brought Yasser Arafat in to start the Palestinian Authority, and of course we don't have a free media today under Fatah, Hamas, and the rest of the gangs that are running the show out there. And this is very sad.

Sometimes I wish the problem with the media was the only problem that we have over there, but as you all know it's a very messy situation. I'm one of those who has been arguing for the past fifteen years that things have been going in the wrong direction in this part of the world. For a few months after signing Oslo we reached the point where many Jews and many Arabs missed the good old days before the peace process began.

Now, what do I mean by that? Oslo was not bad. Oslo was based on the idea of a two-state solution and ending the military occupation in one way or another. So the idea of Oslo was not bad. Separation between Jews and Palestinians who did not want to live together. And as such I supported it. I thought it was a good idea.

But the way Oslo was implemented brought disaster on both Jews and Arabs. The assumption back then in the U.S., in Israel, and in many places in Europe, was that if you bring the PLO and thousands of PLO fighters and you dump them into the West Bank and Gaza and you give them millions of dollars and guns that they will do the dirty job of policing the West Bank and Gaza. They would replace the occupation and fight Hamas and Islamic Jihad. They would do all these wonderful things. Why? Because they're on our payroll.

So the international community and Israel gathered all these PLO fighters from around the world, released thousands of PLO fighters from Israeli prisons, gave them uniforms and guns, and called them security forces. And the result was the people who had never received any basic training, people who had never finished high school, became colonels and generals in Yasser Arafat's Authority. He established sixteen different security forces with the help of the Americans, the Europeans, and the Israelis. And they started pouring money into this regime that they called the Palestinian Authority. Billions of dollars with the hope that Arafat would deliver.

Now, there's no need to elaborate. As you all know, Arafat turned out to be a crook. Most of the money that was sent to the Palestinian Authority literally went down the drain and supported the shopping sprees of Arafat's wife who was living in Paris. Instead of building us a hospital, Arafat built a casino in Jericho, as if the Palestinian revolution aspired for forty years to get us a casino. And the chutzpah was that he built that casino across the street from a refugee camp. So Palestinians did not see the fruits of peace.

My argument is as follows. The fact that Arafat was crooked didn't surprise us Palestinians. We were only surprised by the fact that the international community kept giving him money and refused to hold him accountable when he stole our money. Why didn't they invest something? They didn't want to believe it.

When I tried to alert my foreign colleagues in 1995, 1996, and 1997, to the fact that there was corruption in the Palestinian Authority, many of them asked me if I was on the payroll of the Jewish Lobby. I wanted to know where was this Jewish Lobby? If there was one maybe they would pay me.

I told them: "This is what I am hearing. The writing is on the wall. Come and listen to what Palestinians are saying." And they told me they weren't interested in that story. They told me they wanted anti-Israel stories because it made their lives so much easier. They told me they didn't want to write anything bad about Palestinians, that Arafat was a man of peace and should be given a chance. I heard this from major American journalists, by the way. Leading American journalists. I don't want to give you their names right now, but I was really frustrated. And angry.

Listen. For all these years we've been attacking the military occupation. So why is it that when I tell you something that Arafat is doing, suddenly you don't want to report it and think it's Jewish propaganda? Most of these journalists did not even want to make any effort.

By depriving these people of money, what did Arafat do? He radicalized the Palestinians who did not see the fruits of peace. So that's reason number one why Palestinian society is radicalized.

But there are other reasons. Reasons number two is that you gave Yasser Arafat guns so that he could kill Hamas and Islamic Jihad, but instead he directed those guns against anyone who said they wanted reform or democracy. Arafat used your guns, your weapons, provided by the United States of America, to suppress the leaders of a new leadership.

Let me give you an example. In 1997, 29 Palestinian professors signed a petition demanding Yasser Arafat end the corruption. They found themselves either shot or killed or thrown into jail or they had to run away from the country. And of course this is not a story you would see on CNN. I don't think even the New York Times reported that.

So Arafat cracked down on the reformists and the democrats and the people who wanted good government. And he sent the rest of the people into the open arms of Hamas. He cracked down on the reformists and he refused to crack down on Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

Reason number three. You gave Yasser Arafat money to open a TV and radio station. And on this TV and radio station Arafat said "Jihad, jihad, kill the crusaders, kill the Jews, kill the infidels, kill everyone but me." Now you may ask yourself why Arafat was inciting against his peace partners in Israel, why was he inciting against the Americans and Europeans who were feeding him? It doesn't make sense.

Well, to us it does make sense. This is how our Arab dictators survive. They constantly blame the miseries of our people on the Jews and the West and the Crusaders and the infidels and the Zionist lobby and the imperialists. They use all these slogans. Arab leaders always need to make sure that their people are busy hating somebody else, preferably the Jews and the Americans. Otherwise their people might rebel, and God forbid they might demand reforms and democracy.

This is exactly what Arafat did, but he did it in Arabic. The international community – and even Israelis – did not want to listen to what Arafat was saying in Arabic. They only cared what he said in English. They said that what he said in English was good.

I said "Excuse me, folks, but in Arabic Arafat is telling people to kill you." But they did not want to listen to the incitement. They underestimated it. They said "you Arabs are all corrupt and don't know anything about democracy so you deserve a dictatorship."

This incitement drove people into the open arms of Hamas. Arafat was telling people how evil the Jews are, and people then said "Hamas is right, Jews are the sons of monkeys and pigs. Why should we make peace with them?"

A fourth reason, which is a lot less important in my view, is that Israelis brought the PLO into the Palestinian areas, armed the PLO, helped create all these security militias and gangsters and mafias, and then said they needed to protect themselves from their peace partners. And how did they protect themselves? By imposing restrictions and curfews, by surrounding Palestinian communities with checkpoints. Why? Because they needed to protect themselves from the militias and mafias that they brought into the West Bank and Gaza. So Palestinians lost faith in the peace process.

All this radicalized Palestinian society to the point that when Hamas decided to run in free and democratic elections under the banner of "change" and "reform" they won. It was all very obvious. The writing was clear on the wall that anyone who challenged Arafat back then....believe me that if even Ehud Olmert had run in the Palestinian elections promising change and reform and democracy he would have won. Because in January of 2006, the parliamentary elections that were held in the Palestinian Authority were largely about internal reforms in the Palestinian areas. Hamas was ready to deliver. What did they do? They came to the Palestinians and said "Listen, folks. You've tried all these PLO people. They're corrupt. They're bad. Arafat was a thief. Abu Mazen is also a total failure. These guys stole your money. These guys are US agents, they are CIA. Why don't you try us now? We will show you that we can establish good government. And, by the way, look at what we've done for you since 1988. We've established a vast network of educational, social, health, and economic services. Arafat built a casino, and we built two universities. Arafat gave his wife 100,000 dollars a month so she can do her shopping while we gave poor people money. Arafat built bars and restaurants in Ramallah while we built orphanages and charities." So the Palestinians said "Let's try Hamas. If they come to power there is nothing left to steal. They can't be more corrupt than the PLO."

That was the basic line. I'm not saying all those who voted for Hamas in 2006 were registering a vote of protest. We have to be very careful. Hamas does have a lot of supporters. What I'm saying is that had it not been also a vote of protest against the PLO , Hamas would not have won. Why? Because I know Christians who voted for Hamas. I know centrist Palestinians who voted for Hamas. I even know PLO people who voted for Hamas because the name of the game back then was "Let's punish the PLO." And how do you do it? By voting for Hamas, their main rivals. And it worked. And Hamas came to power.

What has been happening since then is also very interesting. The U.S. government, with the help of some Europeans and some Israelis, after Hamas won the election, they went to the guys who lost the election and said "folks, here are guns and here is some money. Go bring down this democratically elected government." And what was the result of this U.S. meddling in Palestinian affairs? It backfired. It played into the hands of Hamas and even boosted Hamas' popularity on the street.

What did Palestinians think when they saw Condoleeza Rice and George W. Bush openly campaigning against this democratically elected government? Their sympathies went to this democratically elected government even though it was Hamas. And when Palestinians see PLO people, the Fatah people, openly conspiring with the Americans and the Israelis to bring down a democratically elected government, they're going to hate the PLO even more.

So U.S. and European meddling in Palestinian affairs in the aftermath of the Hamas victory further strengthened Hamas to the point where in June 2007 Hamas says "Everyone is trying to bring me down. No one is giving me a chance. The whole world is against me. You corrupt PLO people are conspiring against me. I won in a free and democratic election. If you don't believe me, ask Jimmy Carter. He supervised the election. What does everyone want from me?"

And they staged a coup. Some people call it a coup. They threw the Fatah people out of Gaza. Fewer than 10,000 Hamas fighters defeated more than 70,000 American-backed Fatah policemen. The question is, how did they do it?

The answer is very simple. As soon as Hamas started shooting, these people did not fight. They ran away. They surrendered to Hamas. They basically went to Hamas and said "No, no, Hamas, please. We will give you all the guns, everything. Just leave us alone." And they ran away.

First they tried to run away toward Egypt. But Mubarak is not stupid. He sealed the border. I was there when it happened.

Israel was the only country in the world that sent troops and helicopters and gunships and ambulances to save Muslims from being slaughtered by Muslims, to save the PLO people from being slaughtered by Hamas. Israel took them and dumped them in the West Bank.

And where are we standing today? I told you before that I'm one of those people who support a two-state solution. I think it's a wonderful solution. But in the end we're getting a different kind of two-state solution. We have two separate entities. One in Gaza, and one in the West Bank.

The one in Gaza is an Islamic state run by Hamas and supported by Ahmadinejad, Syria, Hezbollah, and some people say Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood. It's a very dangerous situation, and as a moderate Muslim that's the last place I want to live on this earth.

What we have in the West Bank is the secular, corrupt, powerless regime of the PLO. Abu Mazen, Abu Shmazen, all these Abus. The Arafat cronies who failed their people over the past fifteen years. Who lost the election in January 2006 because of the corruption. Who were kicked out of Gaza because they failed. Who have lost control over half the Palestinians who live in this part of the world. And they are sitting in Ramallah. These people are in power only thanks to the presence of the IDF in the West Bank. If the Israeli army were to leave the West Bank tomorrow morning these PLO people would collapse in five minutes and Hamas would take over.

The question we should ask ourselves in the wake of this scenario is whether or not there is really a partner on the Palestinian side for any deal, let alone a peace agreement. Any kind of deal. Is there really a partner on the Palestinian side? And the answer is simple. No.

Hamas is not a partner for any peace agreement because Hamas is not going to change. All these people who believe that Hamas will one day change its ideology, that pragmatic leaders will emerge in Hamas, these people are living under illusions. Hamas is not going to change. To their credit we must say that their message has been very clear. It's the same message in Arabic and in English. They're being very honest about it. They're saying "Folks, we will never recognize Israel. We will never change. We will not abandon the path of the resistance." They're very clear about it.

After they won the election, by the way, the international community went to Hamas and said "Listen. If you want us to deal with you, accept Israel and everything will be okay." And Hamas was very honest. They said "No. We are not going to renounce terrorism. We are not going to recognize previous agreements between Palestinians and Israel. And we are not going to recognize Israel's right to exist." They were very clear about it. And they say the same thing today.

Ten days before the Hamas coup in Gaza I was invited by some U.S. diplomats to tell them about what was happening. I told them "Hamas is about to kick the PLO people out of Gaza because you are openly with the PLO and it has discredited them on the street. You're making them look like CIA agents."

The U.S. diplomats said "You don't know what you're talking about. The PLO has 70,000 people. Who is Hamas? They will crush them. You will see."

My prediction was not 100 percent accurate because I expected it to happen in three weeks. It happened ten days later. The writing was very clear on the wall.

There are so many things that are obvious in this part of the world that international leaders, diplomats, all these people in the West who are dealing with the Palestinian issue turn a blind eye to and don't want to see. Before we go to the Q&A and I take your questions, I want to give you one small example of how people in the West don't want to understand what's going on over here.

Before the January 2006 parliamentary election, the PLO people went to Condoleeza Rice and said "You are making a huge mistake by forcing us to go and have a free and democratic election. Our people don't trust us. We are corrupt and we will lose. Hamas will win. So please let's not hold an election. This is not the right time."

"No, don't worry," she said. "Let Hamas participate in the election. Hamas will not win. Everything will be okay."

They asked her how she knew Hamas was not going to win. She said she warned the Palestinians that if they vote for Hamas, she will punish them.

That warning, by the way, gave Hamas ten more points in the election. Hamas took Rice's statement and made huge banners out of it that said Condoleeza Rice says no to Hamas.

So Rice, knowing that Hamas is a terrorist organization, did not set any preconditions for Hamas' participation in the election. Even in Israel, by the way, Hamas candidates were openly campaigning in Israel, in Jerusalem. In East Jerusalem, okay, but in Israel. They were campaigning openly. They were saying "reforms, democracy, and by the way we want to destroy Israel."

What made Rice, after they won the election, say Hamas is a terrorist organization? Before the election they were not a terrorist organization? She bears responsibility for the fact that Hamas is in power. It was a huge mistake. Instead of learning from their mistakes after Hamas came to power, they continued with the same mistakes. And look at the mess we are in now.

I don't know how to solve this problem. Talking about a Palestinian state today is a joke. Where would that state be established? Israel controls nearly half of the West Bank. These PLO people can't deliver. If Israel gives up the West Bank, you will have to go to Cairo or Amman to take a flight back to America because snipers will be sitting on the hilltops above Ben-Gurion airport.

If you keep up this policy of supporting one party against the other, Gaza will move to the West Bank and we will end up with more anarchy and lawlessness and God knows what else is going to happen. It's a very unpleasant picture. It's very gloomy, I know.

Anthony Cordesman, Center for Strategic and International Studies: Let's see if we can steer this back to the Gaza issue. Given what you've said, what will the impact be on this fighting in Gaza and in the West Bank?

Khaled Abu Toameh: All those talking about how Hamas is finished or on the verge of collapse or that it's only a matter of time before the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip revolt against Hamas, I'm sorry to tell you that I don't share these assessments. Hamas may have suffered a major blow. Many of its institutions have been destroyed. It has been undermined in many ways. But what worries me is that Hamas still enjoys a lot of political support. Hamas continues to be as strong as it was in Gaza.

Why? I've been saying this for a long time: the only way to undermine Hamas and eventually bring about its collapse is to offer the Palestinians a greater alternative to Hamas. Not by bombing their headquarters and destroying their military arsenal. That's good, but it's not enough.

If I were the Americans and the Europeans after Hamas came to power, I would have gone to the PLO people who lost the election and, instead of giving them guns and money, I would have told them "Listen, folks. Hamas is in power because of your corruption, your mismanagement, and because you guys are thieves. Why don't you guys reform yourselves? Get rid of all these corrupt people in the PLO and Fatah. Form a youth party and challenge Hamas in the next election." That's one way.

But I'm afraid that under the current circumstances Hamas is going to be around for a long time. Many Palestinians today will tell you that Mahmoud Abbas is a traitor, that all these people were actually in the IDF headquarters watching the war. Hamas is already saying that Mahmoud Abbas was passing information to the Israeli about the whereabouts of Hamas leaders.

These allegations are very serious, by the way. I don't know if you saw my story today in the Jerusalem Post about how Hamas in the past 48 hours has been waging a massive crackdown on Fatah in Gaza. They've killed or wounded maybe 100 Fatah people. They're dragging them into the streets and shooting them in the legs. They've even gouged the eyes of some of them out. Maybe you're going to have lunch later, so I don't want to go into graphic descriptions of what's happening to Fatah over there. But Fatah is really under attack, and I don't see anyone moving to save them.

I don't see a mass movement rising against Hamas. Not now. I've been talking to many people in Gaza. I haven't heard one person there blaming Hamas for the destruction of his house. I'm hearing a lot of voices against Israel and against the Arab states. And much of the anger is being directed against Mahmoud Abbas. This operation makes the moderate Arabs look like fools. It makes them look as if they were on the wrong side. When you have Al Jazeera, the most popular TV station in the Arab world, daily and nightly inciting against the Arab leaders and giving a platform for people who are saying our Arab leaders are traitors, that our Arab leaders are in collusion with the Israelis, that our Arab leaders were hoping to enter Gaza in Israeli know, this is reverberating. Most of the protests on the Arab street in Cairo, in Khartoum, in Yemen, wherever you go, you will hear people chanting slogans against Arab leaders and Mahmoud Abbas before they chant slogans against Israel and America.

And now there's all this talk of bringing Mahmoud Abbas to Gaza. Excuse me, but if Mahmoud Abbas enters Gaza he will be executed in the public square within minutes. You have all these militias roaming the streets. Most of them weren't fighting. They were hiding. They became "civilians" as soon as the Israelis launched their attack. They were all in hiding or they were all dressed as civilians. When they were brought to hospitals they were without their guns. They were counted as civilians.

We don't know exactly what's happening over there, but I don't see any attempt by the local Palestinians or other forces to challenge Hamas openly.

Max Boot, Council on Foreign Relations: What about the Israeli expectation that with these attacks they will have established deterrence against Hamas? Do you think that's true?

Khaled Abu Toameh: Yes. Yes. Look. The West Bank was quiet during the attack in Gaza. Now, I was talking to many people. You know what they were saying? And this is the funny part. "You know what?" they said. "The Jews have gone mad. This is not the time to mess around with them." And, you know, when you hear this from the man on the street, it really does create deterrence. I would rather see deterrence created in another way, but there is this perception on the Arab street today that the Jews have gone crazy, there are no more red lines, nothing, they don't care, and we should be careful. So in that sense, yes, there is some kind of deterrence, for the short term at least.

Before this war, four days before the war, I interviewed a number of Hamas guys. I published it in the Jerusalem Post. And the headline was Hamas Mocks Israel's Nonresponse to Qassam Attacks. What were they saying, the Hamas leaders? Basically that the Jews are cowards.

They think Israel ran away from Lebanon, that Hezbollah defeated them. They thought the Jews were scared and would not come into Gaza. They were really confident that Israel wouldn't fight back. Really. They were. They thought at most that Israel would send a few tanks into open fields just to calm Israeli public opinion. So the response really caught them by surprise, especially the first day.

So yes, there is this perception today in the Arab world that our neighbor has gone mad.

Anthony Cordesman: I was in the West Bank this summer, and it's amazing what they've achieved even though an awful lot of that money is still going to senior officials and not to the Palestinian people.

Khaled Abu Toameh: The other day someone came for the first time ever to this part of the world, and he called me and asked me to take him to Ramallah. So I drove him to downtown Ramallah and we stopped there. The man was shocked. He said "Where are the refugee camps? Where are the mud houses? Where's the poverty?"

I said "Why are you asking me these questions?"

He said "I'm shocked. Look how nice it is."

You know, there are things that are contradictory and don't make sense over there. Some of the restaurants in Ramallah are more expensive than the restaurants in Tel Aviv. There are people with a lot of money.

The corruption hasn't been stopped, but it has been reduced. Some Americans and Europeans continue to pour money on the PLO people without holding them accountable under the pretext that this money will produce a moderating effect.

Max Boot: There does seem to be this sense that the West Bank has been doing better economically.

Khaled Abu Toameh: Yes.

Max Boot: Does that translate into better politics?

Khaled Abu Toameh: No.

Mario Loyola, National Review Magazine: One American strategy in the Bush Administration's foreign policy has been to make conditions in the West Bank so much better than in Gaza that the people in Gaza start to say, "Look, it's better under Fatah."

Khaled Abu Toameh: They are saying that. But at the end of the day they're not going to vote for Fatah. Why? Look. People won't do that for two reasons, or they will vote for Hamas for two reasons.

One, Hamas is not corrupt in power, they didn't steal money. No one gave them a chance, so Palestinians won't hold it against them. Hamas are victims in the eyes of the Palestinians. And as such people's sympathies go to Hamas.

Two, when they look at the PLO guys, all these Abus sitting in Ramallah, they don't see any change. They don't see that the PLO people, the Fatah people, have drawn any conclusions from their own defeat. Fatah has been trying to hold internal elections for the past eighteen years, and they've failed. Mahmoud Abbas promised to hold general elections inside Fatah, two years ago, three years ago, fours years ago. The power struggle between the old guard and the young guard inside Fatah has been ongoing. People look at Fatah and don't see that there is a viable alternative to Hamas.

General Tom McInerney, Fox News Military Analyst: Is there a solution to this problem?

Khaled Abu Toameh: You Americans are always asking us that. Why are Americans always asking me if there is a solution? A solution to what?

Michael J. Totten: The whole thing.

Khaled Abu Toameh: What is the whole thing?

Anthony Cordesman: Is there anything useful that could be done this year?

Khaled Abu Toameh: Listen. Look. We must stop dreaming about the New Middle East and coexistence and harmony and turning this area into Hong Kong and Singapore. If anyone thinks a Palestinian will wake up in the morning and sing the Israeli national anthem, that's not going to happen. If anyone thinks an Israeli Jew will go back to doing his shopping in downtown Ramallah or to see his dentist in Bethlehem or eat fish in Gaza City, that's not going to happen. There has been a total divorce between Jews and Palestinians. We don't want to see each other.

I think that's good. Separation is good. Separation doesn't need harmony and coexistence. Forget about that. That's not going to happen. Let's focus on managing the conflict. Instead of talking about real peace, let's first of all try to stop the violence, reduce the level of bloodshed, and maybe that will pave the way for future peace. The only solution now is total separation between these two communities. Israel should not be involved in the internal affairs of the Palestinians, but at the same time Israel has the right to look after its own security. They should disengage from the Palestinians completely and tell them, "Listen, folks. Don't mess around with us anymore. We're going to strike back if you fire rockets at us. And if you want to have Hamas, Fatah, or whomever, go and do it over there without our help." That's the only way. I don't see a real peace emerging over here. We should stop talking about it.

Max Boot: But earlier you said that if Israel disengages from the West Bank, Hamas will be in power in five minutes.

Khaled Abu Toameh: I mean the Israelis should disengage under the proper circumstances. Under the current circumstances, they should not disengage. Only if they have a partner on the Palestinian side.

Max Boot: The circumstances aren't going to change any time soon.

Khaled Abu Toameh: Yes. Okay. So don't do anything. You know what? Some Israelis ask me what they should do. I say "Nothing. You just sit there. And wait."

If I were an Israeli Jew I would go to the Palestinians and say "Listen, folks. I'm prepared to give you a Palestinian state and the Israeli majority approves of that, not because we love the Palestinians, but because we want to be rid of the Palestinians."

There's a majority of Jews today who want to disband most of the settlements and take only two percent of the West Bank. My Israeli Jewish friends say to me, "You know, Khaled. You Arabs can take whatever you want. Just leave us alone. It's no longer a territorial dispute for us. We'll give you anything you want if you just go and leave us alone." Some of them even go further than that. Some of them say "Just leave us Tel Aviv, the airport, and the beach."

In the wake of these positive changes that have happened inside Israel, all you need is a strong partner on the Palestinian side. There is some hope, but only if there is a strong partner on the Palestinian side.

General Tom McInerney: But not Hamas.

Khaled Abu Toameh: I don't care. If I were Israeli I would talk to any Palestinian who wants to talk to me, and I would shoot any Palestinian who shoots at me. I wouldn't ask if they were Hamas. You know what? Believe me, if you listen to Hamas and Fatah in Arabic there isn't much of a difference, especially these days. Fatah fought alongside Hamas in Gaza. Today they said they lost 36 fighters and fired 900 rockets at Israel. Fatah.

Mario Loyola: Hamas pretends its casualties are lower, and Fatah pretends its casualties are higher.

Khaled Abu Toameh: Look. Look. As I said before, let's stop saying "Fatah" and "Hamas." Talk to anyone who wants to talk. Talking to Hamas does not mean that you recognize Hamas or that they become your buddies. The funny thing is that Israel went to war against a party that it doesn't recognize. And in the end Israel made a cease-fire unilaterally and negotiated with the Americans and the Egyptians for how to end it. And Hamas is still sitting there.

There's nothing wrong with Israel talking to Hamas if they want a ceasefire. Israelis can't ignore the fact that Hamas is in power. And Hamas continues to enjoy tremendous support over there.

Dr. Barry Posen, MIT Security Studies Program: I'm interested in going back a couple of steps and asking for your assessment of Hamas' strategy to let the ceasefire lapse and accelerate the firing of rockets. You already mentioned that they miscalculated the Israeli reaction, but what were they hoping to benefit? And what does that tell us about deterring Hamas in the future?

Khaled Abu Toameh: I think this is something many people in Israel and the West don't hear. I hear it in Arabic, and I hear it directly from them.

Dr. Barry Posen: That's why I'm asking you.

Khaled Abu Toameh: Just before the ceasefire expired, Hamas went to Egypt and said "Listen, folks. We agreed to the previous ceasefire because you, the Egyptians, promised us you would open the Rafah border crossing. And it didn't happen. And we, Hamas, were committed to this. We did our best to honor the ceasefire."

Okay, there were some violations here and there, but Hamas did in a way honor the ceasefire. They arrested people who were firing at Israel.

Mubarak said "To hell with it. I'm not going to open the Rafah border crossing unless you allow Mahmoud Abbas to come back into Gaza. Do whatever you want. I'm under pressure from the Israelis, the Americans, and Mahmoud Abbas not to open the Rafah border crossing."

Mahmoud Abbas went to Mubarak before the ceasefire expired and said "President Mubarak, please don't reopen the Rafah border crossing because that will strengthen Hamas. If you want it to be open, only give it back to me in line with the 2005 US-brokered agreement."

And so, if you think about it, Mahmoud Abbas and Hosni Mubarak bear indirect responsibility for this war. When Hamas saw that they weren't going to open the borders, Hamas said "To hell with the ceasefire" and started firing rockets again. Israel reacted and now we are where we are today.

So now we are back to square one. Hamas is still making the same demand. They said "Okay, we agree to a ceasefire, but reopen the border." They keep saying "reopen the border."

Max Boot: Do you think there is going to be any change in Mubarak's attitude? Is he going to do anything to help out that he wasn't doing before?

Khaled Abu Toameh: No. We're back to square one. Look. For Mubarak it's better if these weapons go into Gaza and kill Jews, because if these weapons don't go into Gaza to kill Jews they might end up on the streets of Cairo. They might end up in the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Smuggling is a business. We're doing Hamas an injustice by saying they're the ones who established the tunnels. These tunnels have been there since 1967. In the 1970s I visited some of the tunnels. In the 1980s I visited the tunnels. When Arafat was there I visited the tunnels. These tunnels are part of the culture. It's a cultural thing over there. If you have your own tunnel it's like you have your own business. Hamas now takes taxes and gives people a license to build their tunnel.

Listen. The Egyptians are hypocrites. They are busy killing African refugees who are trying to get asylum in Israel. They opened fire on an African mother and son who were trying to run away from Sudan and were trying to seek refuge inside Israel. I haven't heard that the Egyptians are destroying tunnels or anything. I haven't heard it.

Dr. Barry Posen: What was Hamas' theory about how the rocket fire would work? Was the rocket fire meant to being hawks to power in the election here? Were they trying to bring back attention? Were they trying to affect Israeli-Egyptian elections? Because in a weird way it seems to me that this war had a funny objective, that both Israelis and Hamas were fighting for Egypt.

Khaled Abu Toameh: Look. I believe this war could have been prevented. Really. Had we gone to Hosni Mubarak and the Americans and said "Okay, let's forget about the 2005 agreement. Let's come up with a new agreement." Hamas would have agreed to have some Palestinian Authority representatives at the border in return. But no one wanted to listen. They all said "Bring down Hamas, bring down Hamas."

To answer your question, Hamas thought that if they fire rockets at Israel that the Israeli public would revolt and start complaining and would go to their leaders and say "Go and find some kind of solution." Israelis don't want war and can't afford to have war on the eve of elections. So they thought the Israeli public would revolt, that the Egyptian government would come back and negotiate a new ceasefire of Hamas' terms. They really thought these rockets would bring about some kind of international response or a response from the Israeli public.

Mario Loyola: Isn't violence for Hamas both a means and an end?

Khaled Abu Toameh: Of course. Of course. But in this specific case they used the rockets to put pressure on Israel and the West and the Egyptians with the hope that they could extract some concessions. Hamas believes they have created a balance of terror with Israel, and they're trying to imitate Hezbollah.

Anthony Cordesman: What are Palestinian attitudes going to be toward Iran and Syria? And what are Palestinians going to think about Europeans?

Khaled Abu Toameh: First of all, Hamas and Fatah are fighting over who is going to receive the international aid. This is very bad, and they are already accusing each other of stealing some of the aid that has come in from the West and from the Arab countries.

Now Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, Al Qaeda, Islamic Jihad, the Muslim Brotherhood, all these people are playing a very negative role in this part of the world. Iran did not want Hamas to sign the ceasefire. Iran wants to fight to the last Palestinian. And they will do it through Hamas, through Hezbollah. They have their own agenda, these Iranians. Hamas could not have taken control of the Gaza Strip in 2007 had it not been for support from Iran and Syria. They had logistical and financial support, which means weapons. Most of the weapons coming into Gaza are being financed by Iran and facilitated by Syria.

So how do the Palestinians relate to them? They are some Palestinians who will tell you that the Iranians are bad, that we don't want them meddling in our affairs, look what they've done, these Iranians and Syrians are responsible for the divisions among Palestinians, they are inciting Hamas. Others will tell you they welcome Iran. There are mixed views. But I don't think the majority would like to see aid from Norway, Switzerland, or Canada instead of from Iran and Hezbollah.

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