Saturday, March 21, 2009

Iran not hot to trot with USA

Evidently, nothing will disabuse Zbigniew Brzezinsky, Charles Freeman and Dennis Blair that the Iranian government is eager to solve all problems through dialogue with the USA. But they need to do a reality check. The attitude of Iran really is not just a figmanet of the imagination of the "Israel lobby."
Iran's supreme leader dismisses Obama overtures
By ALI AKBAR DAREINI, Associated Press Writer Ali Akbar Dareini, Associated Press Writer
TEHRAN, Iran – Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei dismissed overtures from President Barak Obama on Saturday, saying Tehran does not see any change in U.S. policy under its new administration.
Khamenei's comments were the first top level reaction to a video message Obama released Friday in which he reached out to Iran on the occasion of Nowruz, the Persian new year.
Khamenei holds the last word on major policy decisions, and how Iran ultimately responds to any concrete U.S. effort to engage the country will depend largely on his say.
In his most direct assessment of Obama and prospects for improved ties, Khamenei said there will be no change between the two countries unless the American president puts an end to U.S. hostility toward Iran and brings "real changes" in foreign policy.
"They chant the slogan of change but no change is seen in practice. We haven't seen any change," Khamenei said in his speech, which was broadcast live on state television.
In his video message, Obama said the United States wants to engage Iran and improve decades of strained relations, but he also warned that a right place for Iran in the international community "cannot be reached through terror or arms, but rather through peaceful actions that demonstrate the true greatness of the Iranian people and civilization."
Speaking to tens of thousands of people in the northeastern holy city of Mashhad, Khamenei asked how Obama could congratulate Iranians on the new year and accuse the country of supporting terrorism and seeking nuclear weapons in the same message.
"As long as the U.S. government continues the same policies and directions of the previous 30 years, we will be the same nation of the past 30 years," Khamenei said. "The Iranian nation can't be deceived or threatened."
Khamenei said there has been no change even in Obama's language compared to that of his predecessor.
"He (Obama) insulted the Islamic Republic of Iran from the first day. If you are right that change has come, where is that change? What is the sign of that change? Make it clear for us what has changed."
Khamenei enumerated a long list of Iranian grievances against the United States over the past 30 years and said the U.S. was still continuing its acts of interference in Iran's internal affairs now.
He mentioned U.S. sanctions against Iran, U.S. support for Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein during his 1980-88 war against Iran and the downing of an Iranian airliner over the Persian Gulf in 1988. He also accused the U.S. of provoking ethnic tension in Iran and said Washington's accusations that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons was evidence of U.S. hostility.
"Have you released Iranian assets? Have you lifted oppressive sanctions? Have you given up mudslinging and making accusations against the great Iranian nation and its officials? Have you given up your unconditional support for the Zionist regime? Even the language remains unchanged," Khamenei said.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Japanese perspective on Arab culture and society

MEMRI   January 22, 2004 No. 648
The Arabs From a Japanese Perspective

In an article titled 'How the Arabs Appear to the Japanese,' the head of the Kuwaiti National Council for Culture, Art, and Literature, liberal columnist Muhammad Al-Rumayhi, reviewed the book 'The Arabs: A Japanese Point of View,' by Japanese researcher Nobuaki Notohara. The book, which was recently published in Arabic, included criticism of societal patterns, oppression, and the absence of self-criticism in the Arab world. In his review, Al-Rumayhi presents the book as required reading for anyone interested in reform in the Arab world. The following are excerpts from Al-Rumayhi's article: [1]
What Enabled the Japanese to Enter the New Cultural Age?

"Whenever some Arabs meet at a scientific convention and Japan is mentioned, the participants compare Japan's revival to the yearned-for Arab revival. They say that Japan succeeded in entering the new age while at the same time preserving its social culture. Apparently, this is the majority opinion among Arab observers. It appears that this is an apologetic view or justification aimed at saying, 'You can enter the age of modernization, globalization, and production without giving up your social heritage, the traditional political pattern, and the behavioral norms that are inappropriate for our time.'

"'And if they are told that the Japanese entered the new age because they changed the political patterns and social behavior to which they were accustomed and because they adopted new ideas, some Arabs respond to this with amazement and denial…'

"Now a Japanese man comes along who expresses, in excellent Arabic, the opposite of what certain Arabs think. This is what Nobuaki Notohara wrote in his book. As soon as I read the book, I thought it [worthy of being] a required book for every Arab statesman who believes that reform is still possible in our Arab region.

"The testimony of Notohara – who dwelled among the Arabs for some 40 years and saw both Bedouin and urban culture, who speaks Arabic like an Arab and who followed Arab literary works and translated them into Japanese – is to the best of my knowledge the first Japanese testimony written about Arabs in their own language…"

'Oppression is the Only Thing That Does Not Need to Be Proven in Arab Countries'

"The author points out the tension clearly apparent in the crowded Arab cities; [he] refers to the tension in the Arab street. He thinks that this tension stems from oppression. 'The people walk through the streets as if they were being followed, faces frozen and silent, and [there are] long queues. A person is harmed by oppression even in a taxi, as the driver chooses his passenger according to where he [i.e. the driver] wishes to go, and refuses to take someone he doesn't like.' The book concludes with a comment that 'the residents of the Arab cities are unhappy and dissatisfied. The people are silent and do not speak, but out of this suffocating silence we hear a cry!'

"Notohara believes that the reason for this atmosphere lies in the absence of social justice, and adds that he has the right to say something to the Arabs after all these years of living among them: 'The absence of justice means the absence of the fundamental basis for human relations. Thus, people in the Arab countries say time and again that [in the Arab world] everything is possible because the laws that exist are not implemented and not honored.'

"The law does not protect the people from oppression because it is violated, and Notohara cites many examples and adds: 'Oppression is the only thing that does not need to be proven in Arab countries.'"

In the Arab World, 'The Ruler Rules For His Entire Life'

"One of the phenomena of oppression that surprise modern Japanese is that 'the ruler rules for his entire life, while the Japanese prime minister's term lasts no more than a few years. In every [Arab] country there is a ban on some newspapers, and authors and publications are subject to censorship.'

"A Japanese individual does not expect to see such phenomena. '… Anyone visiting Japan sees cars with loudspeakers in the streets [verbally] attacking the prime minister and the ruling party without anyone harassing them… But in the Arab countries the regime and the ruler are one. In most Arab countries, the only criteria for respecting a citizen and for the extent of his patriotism is the degree of his loyalty to the ruler. All these are alien to us Japanese of the modern age…'

"The author is aware of the fact that Japan was in the past subject to oppression. But the Japanese freed themselves from it, and it became history. [The author] says: 'I think that oppression is an incurable disease in Arab society, and therefore any author or researcher who speaks of the Arab society without being aware of this simple and obvious fact is not a serious researcher.'

"'As a result of oppression, the people try to be conformist in their opinions, dress, and homes, and under such circumstances the individual's independence disappears. Similarly, the phenomenon of public responsibility is absent. Oppression engenders fear and creates spurious respect [for the government].'"

No Justice - No Public Responsibility

"'Due to the absence of justice, there is no public responsibility. This is why Arab residents destroy parks, streets, public drinking fountains, and public transportation, thinking that they are destroying government property, not their own. Similarly, responsibility for… political prisoners [meaning those fighting for civil and human rights] who sacrificed themselves for society is lacking; society itself has abandoned these courageous people. People in Arab countries see the problems of political prisoners as a private problem of the family of each prisoner.'

"The Japanese individual wonders: 'I can understand that the regimes [fight] prominent individuals, thinkers, authors, politicians, scientists, and artists, but why does the people itself abandon them?'

"According to the author, 'the Arab adopts his ideas from outside, while the Japanese shapes his ideas on concrete events in Japan that he experiences every day. In Japan, new facts are added every day, while the Arab makes do with reconstructing events from the distant past…'"

'People Need Domestic and External Criticism'

"The author compares Japan to the Arabs: 'The Japanese had to deal with the bitter and difficult experience of the Japanese military taking control of the emperor, the government, and the people and leading the country to war… But we recognized our mistake and decided to correct it. We expelled the military and decided to rebuild what was destroyed by the military oppression. We learned that oppression leads to destruction of national resources and the murder of innocents... Self-criticism is a great value in the life of every people, and people need domestic and external criticism.'"

Why Don't the Japanese Hate America (While the Arabs Do)?

"The author says that several times his Arab friends have asked him: 'The U.S. destroyed you by dropping two nuclear bombs on your cities. Why don't you hate America?' He answers: 'We must admit our mistakes. We were imperialist and we conquered peoples and destroyed many lands – China, Korea, and Oceania. We must criticize ourselves and then correct our mistakes. As to feelings, this is a limited personal matter that does not build the future.'

"Notahara insists that awareness of problems is the right approach to correcting them… The Japanese does not expect coming to a bank to withdraw money and having the teller give him less than the amount coming to him, or coming to the museum and having the museum director offer to sell him archeological exhibits…

"In his book, Notohara describes many instances; once he saw a nun in religious garb who paid a bribe. Why? Because in her institution, she could not get any attention without it. The author shows that the Arab value system contains many flaws that do not comply with the progress for which the [Arabs] yearn."

'I Think We All Need to Read This Book With Open Eyes and Hearts'

"I have tried to present in brief this book, which opens the eyes of anyone who wants to see. It presents two matters: Japan freed itself of many of its old values … in order to enter the modern age, [and] the Arab value system requires revision…

"I think that we all need to read this book with open eyes and hearts."

[1] Al-Quds (Palestinian Authority), January 8, 2004.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Hindus flee Taliban and Islamist violence

This is what a democratic secular state in Israel would look like. But where would the Jews flee to?
March 16, 2009

Reportage & Photograph: Krishnakumar P

Jihad el Khazen: Arabs have brought unto themselves the problems and misfortunes they have always faced

Speaking truth to power...
Ayoon wa Azan (Was Ibn Khaldoun Right?)
Jihad El-Khazen     Al-Hayat     - 19/03/09//

If there had been a prominent feature since the early 1980s until now and probably tomorrow, it is that the Arabs have brought unto themselves the problems and misfortunes they have always faced. Was Ibn Khaldoun right by saying that we are a barbaric nation with no ruling traditions whatsoever? He said that the clannish spirit is what characterizes Arabs, and that it is strong among Bedouins and weak among urbanites. Since people are of different types, some are predisposed to rule whereas others are not. In the same vein, Ibn Khaldoun exposes the Arabs and makes his harsh famous judgment on them. Thus, they are in his eyes "a barbaric nation as the traditions and causes of barbarity are so deeply rooted in them that they have come to constitute their nature. They enjoy rebellion and the non-observance of politics, which are inconsistent with and in contradiction to civilization." For this reason, the author of Al-Mukaddima sees that the Arabs are "the farthest from the politics of ruling." I claim that the Arabs have changed since Ibn Khaldoun's times. In fact, they have been tamed and defeated. They accept good governance, which is a rare instance, and vicious governance, which is the prevailing pattern. At the same time, they blame America and Israel for their own mistakes and sins, and nap in the afternoon.
They have been deemed liable to be violated, and as a result it is only the Arabs and Muslims who are killed these days. If no enemy kills them, they kill each other and then deny that terror has emerged from their ranks.
Death is a fact. I am not referring to an individual loss, but I am rather thinking of innocent people, of whom thousands or millions have been killed as a result of the ignorance on the part of leaders who do not know that preserving life is the first condition of the social contract following the departure from the jungle.
We have left the jungle, but the law of the jungle still prevails.

Hezbollah and the Byzantine Lebanese National Dialogue

Hezbollah and the Byzantine Lebanese National Dialogue
By: Elias Bejjani


March 19/09

On Monday, 02/09/09, the fifth questionable Lebanese National Dialogue Round was convened at the Baabda Presidential Palace under the patronage of State President, General Michele Suleiman. After two hours of futile and intricate debates the 14 participants who represented the majority of the Lebanese mosaic and multi-cultural communities were only able to agree on setting a new date for the sixth round.

Unfortunately all the Taqiyya, (Deceptive) fake and theatric hand shakings, hugging and confabulations that took place between the participants in front of the cameras before and after the session were the only outcome of the gathering. The participants did not address in any meaningful way the "defense strategy", which was supposed to be the main topic of the dialogue.

During the session numerous hot topics were debated openly, but strikingly, not the defense strategy that was transiently mentioned by President Michel Suleiman at the opening of the session: "The national defense strategy requires time and it is based on a set of elements and components, including political ones, both internally and externally," A clear hint that very serious obstacles and threats hindered putting it on the session's agenda

It is no secret that the "Defense Strategy" item was omitted from the session's agenda by President Suleiman because of the blatant refusal of Iran, Syria and their militant tool in Lebanon, Hezbollah Militia, to put on the table for debate under any current given circumstances, the fate of Hezbollah's weaponry, power and authority. The axis of evil which runs and controls the mini state of Hezbollah in Lebanon has been hindering by force and terrorism the functionality of the Lebanese legitimate government and preventing it from reclaiming its sole authority through its own armed forces on all the Lebanese territory.

It is worth mentioning that on June 07/08, Hezbollah with other Lebanese and Palestinian pro Syrian and Iranian armed militias criminally invaded West Beirut and unsuccessfully attempted to take over Mount Lebanon. They put their invasion under the slogan: "Weapons, protects Weapons", and warned the Lebanese people and their legitimate government that they intend by force to hold on to their weaponry and authority against the will of all those who say otherwise.

During its deplorable occupation era of Lebanon (1976-2005), Baathist Syria had forced since1982 the armed Hezbollah Shiites organization on the Lebanese people under the disguise of resistance against Israel, as well as many other armed Lebanese and Palestinian militias. Syria, the occupation power, safeguarded the outlaw status quo of the Cantons it created for Hezbollah, and in the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon. During its occupation era of Lebanon Syria encouraged and was (and still after its army's withdrawal in 2005) a full partner with Hezbollah and all other armed militias in corruption, assassinations, kidnapping, fraud, knavery, treason, lying and cheating.

An Iranian-sponsored Shiite militia with cantons based in southern Lebanon, Beirut and Bekaa Valley, Hezbollah was and still is the only Lebanese armed militia allowed by Syria to remain armed since 1990 when Christian, Druze and Sunni Lebanese militias were all disarmed in accordance with the "Taef Accord." Syria also did not disarm any of the Palestinian militias and at the same time did not allow the Lebanese authorities to carry on this duty.

The question that imposes itself strongly: what are the justifications for this futile and time consuming Dialogue, and for what purpose is the presentation of the defense Strategy proposal, as long as Hezbollah leadership affirms publicly that they would not discuss with anyone their party's weaponry, but are only open to look into means and ways that facilitate the annexation of the Lebanese state and the Lebanese people into their resistance strategy?

Hezbollah leadership openly, arrogantly and blatantly, and in an ongoing basis, describe their weaponry as holy and sacred. They stridently tie its fate to the Holy Quran and Holy Bible; "our weaponry will and shall remain intact under our full control as long as the Bible and Quran remain. We will amputate the arms, decapitate the heads, cut the necks, and slice open the bellies of those who dare to attempt disarming us." On top of all these stone age slogans they also tie the fate of their weaponry with the existence of the State of Israel: "Our weaponry will remain in our hands as long as the State of Israel remains in the region."

So, why the dialogue with Hezbollah, and for what purposes are Lebanon's leaders, including President Michele Suleiman, cajoling and appeasing Hezbollah, giving the people false hopes and wasting time and resources when they all definitely know for sure that such dialogue will lead nowhere as far as disarming Hezbollah? Any Dialogue on any problem without the presence of a specific declared goal and without the means needed to implement its out come remains useless, ineffective and pointless. Accordingly, it is much better and more respectful for all parties not to engage in such a dead dialogue.

Numerous brave and well informed patriotic politicians have openly addressed this big deceptive lie that is given the "National Dialogue" slogan, and predicted even before the start of its sessions, that this kind of vague and indecisive approach is not going to work in disarming Hezbollah.

This dim, but realistic stance took in consideration the dire fact that Hezbollah is an Iranian Army in Lebanon, while its decision making process, as well as its finances, strategy, education, weaponry and aims all lie in Iran's Mullahs hands, and not in Lebanon.

Ahmad Al Assad, a patriotic Shiite Lebanese leader was one of these brave politicians: "It is naive for any Lebanese to delude himself that Hezbollah will hand over its weapons to the Lebanese state and give up its powers and authority through such dialogue mechanism. The problem lies in the fact that the state and the politicians did not create a mechanism to pressure Hezbollah to take such steps prior to the start of the dialogue sessions."

Hezbollah's bizarre imposed current armed status quo is in defiance of the Lebanese constitution and of both the "Taef Accord" and UNSC Resolution 1559 and 1701, as well as the "Armistice Agreement" that regulated the Lebanese - Israeli borders (signed in 1949). The UN Resolutions and "Taef Accord" all call for the disarmament of all militias, for the Lebanese army to patrol the Lebanese Israeli border and for the Lebanese government to enforce its control and authority on all the Lebanese territories through its own legitimate armed forces.

In the shadow of the sad current status quo imposed on Lebanon's state and the Lebanese by Hezbollah via force, terrorism, extortion, crime and intimidation, there should be no shred of doubt, that the fate of Hezbollah's weaponry will not find a practical and viable solution within Lebanon, and solely by Lebanon's leaders

Therefore, and due to the fact that Hezbollah is actually an Iranian Army in Lebanon, and an Iranian foreign military occupation tool, its entire file must and should be brought to the UN Security Council.

The Lebanese President, if he can and is willing, and if not, the religious and political leaders of the Lebanese multi-cultural communities ought to call on the UN Security Council as soon as possible to step in and take full control of Hezbollah's arms problem. All what is legally needed is for the UN Security Council to proceed its mission by putting UNSC Resolution 1701 Resolution under Chapter Seven. The UN troops are already patrolling the Lebanese - Israeli border and the Lebanese shores.
Otherwise, every Lebanese community will have no option but to abandon the state's umbrella, that is non-functional because of Hezbollah's hegemony, and take the security of its territories into its hands as was the situation during the civil war.

Under such a status of instability and standstill, the Lebanese need to renegotiate peacefully and agree on the kind of state in which they can live in peace and security. Many Lebanese and non-Lebanese strategists see in the Switzerland Federation a viable model for Lebanon.

The Lebanese leadership are all required to take a clear-cut stance on this matter and declare publicly what kind of Lebanon they actually want.

After more than thirty years of turmoil, pain, and agony, the Lebanese people are entitled to enjoy peace and live freely in their own country without terror and the wars of others. It is time to put an end to Lebanon being a battlefield and the arena of constant non-Lebanese conflicts.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

High Russian official: Moscow is gradually fulfilling S-300 air defense contract with Iran

If these systems are installed in Iran, the technical difficulty to destroy the nuclear installations will greatly increase.

March 18, 2009,
Where are the Russian S-300 anti-air missiles sold to Iran?

Where are the Russian S-300 anti-air missiles sold to Iran?

Three times this month, Moscow has offered different versions about the delivery of five sophisticated Russian S-300 anti-missile, anti-air missile systems sold to Iran for $800 million.

Wednesday, March 18, an unnamed official of Russia's Federal Service of Military-Technical Cooperation again hedged around the issue. He said a contract had been signed "two years ago" and was being "fulfilled gradually."

According to Western intelligence sources, Moscow is maneuvering its position for four reasons:

1. Fluctuating levels of tension ahead of the first summit between the Russian and American presidents in London on April 2.

2. Moscow has learned that US and Israeli intelligence have proof that the Russians started supplying Iran with parts of the S-300 systems at the end of January and during February despite its promise to Washington to freeze delivery.

3. Dmitry Medvedev is reluctant to have Barack Obama confront him in London with this information and then asking how, in the light of this breach, Washington can trust Moscow to honor their agreements on security issues, including a possible deal on the US missile shield project in Europe.

4. The Kremlin is itself divided on whether to make good on the Russian-Iranian S-300 missile contract.

The high-ranking Russian official's message Wednesday had four conflicting parts:

"Russia has not delivered the S-300 air defense systems in a deal cut with the Islamic Republic two years ago" - is one.

"Meanwhile the contract is being fulfilled gradually" – is another.

"Further fulfillment of the contract will mainly depend on the current international situation and the decision of the country's leadership" – is the third.

And "Russia has no intention of giving up the estimated hundred million-US dollar contract."

Western and Israeli experts stress that the installation of S-300 systems at Iran's nuclear sites would make an air or missile attack difficult if not impossible.

The advanced version of this ground-to-air weapon can intercept missiles and aircraft from more than 120 kilometers away, target 12 targets simultaneously and is armed with an anti-jamming capability.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Yes, anti-Zionism really is anti-semitism

I mentioned earlier that a new "Arab quartet" was started yesterday, with the leaders of Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait holding a summit to come up with a unified approach to Arab issues. And the only issue they mentioned explicitly was the "Palestinian issue."

Interestingly enough, when it comes to actually helping Palestinian Arabs, their Arab brethren fall consistently short.

While Gaza - an area proudly run by an unrepentant terror group who cheers the deaths of civilians - received pledges of some $5 billion to rebuild, another set of Palestinian Arabs who were caught in a war and who suffered (percentage-wise) much greater damage have been all but ignored by the Arab world. In this case, I'm not talking about the few thousand Iraqi Palestinians who lost their homes after being chased out of Iraq by resentful native Iraqis, but about the Lebanese Palestinians whose camps were destroyed in last year's fighting between the Lebanese Army and terrorists in the camps:

The United Nations has laid a foundation stone at the Nahr al-Bared camp in northern Lebanon to mark the formal start of reconstruction there.

The Palestinian refugee camp was destroyed in heavy fighting between Islamist militants and the Lebanese army in 2007.

Some 400 people died and 30,000 Palestinians were displaced.

But there is not enough money to rebuild completely, and some of its residents booed as work began.

As the first stone in the reconstruction of Nahr al-Bared was laid, some Western diplomats admitted the occasion was not as positive as the organisers had hoped.

The UN's relief agency for Palestinian refugees (Unwra) has only managed to raise $43m (£31m) to rebuild the camp - a tiny fraction of the $430m needed.

Lebanon's rich neighbours in the Gulf have not delivered the funds they pledged.

Only 50m (165 feet) away from the VIP guests, several hundred Palestinian refugees booed from behind barbed wire.

Displaced by last year's fighting between the army and the Islamic militants, these refugees now live in the areas around the camp, surrounded by the rubble of their homes.

They say they worry about whether the international community will ever find the money to rebuild their homes.

But even if they do, Mahmoud, like many here, says it will not solve their problems in Lebanon.

"This is not life, this is not life. We need to change this country. We have no rights here, we have no rights. We need life. Where is the life? Here, no life."

There are more than 200,000 Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, living in 12 camps across the country.

Palestinians have been here for more than 60 years - since the creation of Israel - but they are still barred from at least 70 professions, have no access to state education or healthcare, and cannot move freely or buy land.
Compared to the entire Palestinian Arab population of Lebanon, the war last year was far more devastating than the Gaza war was for Gazans. The average Palestinian Arab in Lebanon was five times more likely to lose their home and twice as likely to be killed compared to Gazans.

Yet the world pledged billions for Gaza and only a tiny fraction of that for Lebanese Palestinian Arabs.

What could account for the incredible discrepancy between the attention and money given to Gaza and that given to Lebanese camps?

When Jews are involved in killing Palestinian Arabs - no matter how justified their cause, no matter how defensive the actions, no matter how careful they are to avoid civilian deaths - there are cries of "genocide" and "holocaust." Europeans go out of their way to show empathy to the Arab victims. People contribute cash and aid. Nations pledge billions. Prominent politicians and poets and others rush to show their support. Everyone loves Palestinian Arabs - when they are perceived as the victims of Jews.

Yet when Arabs are killing Palestinian Arabs, the world sympathy for Palestinian Arabs dries up completely. No screaming headlines, no money, no charity drives, no European bleeding hearts, no Gulf states sending convoys of medical aid, clothing and building materials. No one castigates Lebanon in the UN for explicit discrimination against a minority group of 200,000, most of whom were born in that country, and their refusal to let them own land, take many jobs or become citizens. No boats of activists are being sent to Lebanon to bring public attention to a problem that really does need public attention. No countries say they will arrest any Lebanese officials who visit as "war criminals."

How much starker could the hypocrisy of "human rights advocates" be? How much more obvious can it be that a significant percentage of people who claim to care about Palestinian Arabs are, in fact, anti-semites who cloak their hatred of Jews in the mantle of "human rights"?

When Alice Walker, Lauren Booth, and George Galloway decide to visit Palestinian Arabs suffering under oppression in Lebanon, and they speak out about that oppression, then they can claim to be compassionate. When Caryl Churchill writes a play about Lebanon, talking about how Arabs pretend to care about their Palestinian brothers while actively working to keep them second-class citizens, then she can claim not to be anti-semitic. When the nations of the world decide to have a "donor's conference" to raise billions for Palestinian Arabs who have been victimized by their own people, then they can claim to be fighting for human rights and justice.

But until that happens, there is only one logical reason that all these people pretend to be fixated on Gaza, and it is not to help the Paletinian Arabs there. Deep down, they are itching to blame the Jews. They feel deeply that those Jews who are so sanctimonious, who claim to be the "chosen people," who claim to be moral, need to be taken down a peg. They love the delicious and manufactured irony of Holocaust victims turning into oppressors. The unfashionable hate of Jews has been replaced with the vary fashionable hate of the Jewish state and all its actions. Above all, they love to paint the Palestinian Arabs as the Jews of the 21st century, suffering under the Nazi-like Zionist regime, pretending that Gaza is the Warsaw Ghetto with heroic Arabs fighting for their very dignity.

I know I am painting with a broad brush here. Certainly there are people who are honest in their criticisms of Israel and who criticize others as well. But the acid test of whether a critic of Israel is acting based on morality and not anti-semitism is by seeing what they say - or ignore - about Lebanon.

By that standard, there are precious few legitimate and honest critics of Israel.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Anti-Zionism and Antisemitism: Decoding the Relationship

In an excerpt from his paper Anti-Zionism and Antisemitism: Cosmopolitian Reflections, David Hirsh lays bare the "Livingstone Formulation."

The Livingstone Formulation has become an absolutely standard response to a charge of antisemitism. It is a rhetorical device which enables the user to refuse to think about antisemitism. It is a mirror which bounces back an accusation, magnified, against anybody who makes it. It sends back a charge of dishonest Jewish conspiracy in answer to a concern about antisemitism.

Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London, wrote: 'for far too long the accusation of antisemitism has been used against anyone who is critical of the policies of the Israeli government'.1 The Livingstone Formulation does two things.

Firstly, it denies that there is a distinction between criticism of Israel and demonization of Israel. Criticism of Israeli human rights abuses is not only legitimate, it is entirely appropriate. Demonization, for example, which singles out Israel for unique loathing, or which claims that Israel is apartheid or Nazi or essentially racist, or which characterizes Israel as a child-killing state, or a state which is responsible for wars around the world, or a state which is central to global imperialism, is not the same thing as criticism of Israeli government policies.

Secondly, the Livingstone Formulation does not simply accuse anyone who raises the issue of contemporary antisemitism of being wrong, but it also accuses them of bad faith: 'the accusation of antisemitism has been used against anyone who is critical...' [my italics]. Not an honest mistake then, but a secret, common plan to try to de-legitimize criticism with an instrumental use of the charge of antisemitism. Crying wolf. Playing the antisemitism card. The Livingstone Formulation is both a straw-man argument and a charge of 'Zionist' conspiracy. It is itself an antisemitic claim. Its regular appearance is also, in itself, evidence that antisemitic ways of thinking are becoming unexceptional in contemporary mainstream discourse.

In February 2005, Ken Livingstone became embroiled in an apparently trivial late night argument with a reporter, Oliver Finegold, after a party at City Hall. Finegold asked him how the party was. Livingstone became angry because he felt Finegold was intruding. After a little banter to and fro, he asked Finegold whether he had been a 'German war criminal' before becoming a reporter. Finegold replied that he hadn't, and that he was Jewish, and that he was offended by the suggestion. Livingstone went on to insist that Finegold was behaving just like a 'German war criminal', that his paper the Evening Standard 'was a load of scumbags and reactionary bigots' and that it has a record of supporting Fascism.2

What would Livingstone have said had he been speaking with a black journalist? 'What did you do before, were you a plantation owner?' 'No, I'm black, I wasn't a plantation owner, and I'm quite offended by that.' 'Well you might be black but actually you're just like a plantation owner...'

Instead of apologizing for his mildly offensive behaviour and moving on, Livingstone chose over the next few days to treat the publication of this exchange as a political opportunity rather than a gaffe. He wrote an article criticizing Ariel Sharon in which he included the following formulation: 'For far too long the accusation of antisemitism has been used against anyone who is critical of the policies of the Israeli government, as I have been.'

The Livingstone Formulation alleges that Zionists cry 'antisemitism' when people criticize Israel. In response to the Finegold incident, Livingstone cried 'Israel' when being accused of antisemitism. His insults towards Finegold were connected to Israel or to its human rights abuses only inside his own mind.

Read complete article:

Lost in the blur of slogans


Ishmael Khaldi

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


For those who haven't heard, the first week in March has been designated as Israel Apartheid Week by activists who are either ill intentioned or misinformed. On American campuses, organizing committees are planning happenings to once again castigate Israel as the lone responsible party for all that maligns the Middle East.

Last year, at UC Berkeley, I had the opportunity to "dialogue" with some of the organizers of these events. My perspective is unique, both as the vice consul for Israel in San Francisco, and as a Bedouin and the highest-ranking Muslim representing the Israel in the United States. I was born into a Bedouin tribe in Northern Israel, one of 11 children, and began life as shepherd living in our family tent. I went on to serve in the Israeli border police, and later earned a master's degree in political science from Tel Aviv University before joining the Israel Foreign Ministry.

I am a proud Israeli - along with many other non-Jewish Israelis such as Druze, Bahai, Bedouin, Christians and Muslims, who live in one of the most culturally diversified societies and the only true democracy in the Middle East. Like America, Israeli society is far from perfect, but let us deals honestly. By any yardstick you choose - educational opportunity, economic development, women and gay's rights, freedom of speech and assembly, legislative representation - Israel's minorities fare far better than any other country in the Middle East

So, I would like to share the following with organizers of Israel Apartheid week, for those of them who are open to dialogue and not blinded by a hateful ideology:

You are part of the problem, not part of the solution: If you are really idealistic and committed to a better world, stop with the false rhetoric. We need moderate people to come together in good faith to help find the path to relieve the human suffering on both sides of the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Vilification and false labeling is a blind alley that is unjust and takes us nowhere.

You deny Israel the fundamental right of every society to defend itself: You condemn Israel for building a security barrier to protect its citizens from suicide bombers and for striking at buildings from which missiles are launched at its cities - but you never offer an alternative. Aren't you practicing yourself a deep form of racism by denying an entire society the right to defend itself?

Your criticism is willfully hypocritical: Do Israel's Arab citizens suffer from disadvantage? You better believe it. Do African Americans 10 minutes from the Berkeley campus suffer from disadvantage - you better believe it, too. So should we launch a Berkeley Apartheid Week, or should we seek real ways to better our societies and make opportunity more available.

You are betraying the moderate Muslims and Jews who are working to achieve peace: Your radicalism is undermining the forces for peace in Israel and in the Palestinian territories. We are working hard to move toward a peace agreement that recognizes the legitimate rights of both Israel and the Palestinian people, and you are tearing down by falsely vilifying one side.

To the organizers of Israel Apartheid Week I would like to say:

If Israel were an apartheid state, I would not have been appointed here, nor would I have chosen to take upon myself this duty. There are many Arabs, both within Israel and in the Palestinian territories who have taken great courage to walk the path of peace. You should stand with us, rather than against us.

Ishmael Khaldi is deputy consul general of Israel for the Pacific Northwest.

This article appeared on page A - 11 of the San Francisco Chronicle

The ultimate libel

The recent antisemitic libel propagated by the worldwide antisemitic cadre, i.e. equating Israelis to Nazis, "Israelis do to Gazans, what Nazis did to Jews in the Warsaw Guetto", crosses a revolting moral redline.
Antisemites'  moral obscenity has reached appalling levels.
The degree of willful ignorance about what happened in the Warsaw Guetto and what happened in Gaza exhibited by antisemites, their revisionism/myopia of historical facts, to "justify" their hate and enable themselves to "feel good with themselves", are painful for any decent human being who longs to live in  decent society.
People that engage in this dirty libel invented by the likes of  promote an obscene distortion of history, past and present. 
Many pretend that they seek peace for all people in the region.
Blatant hypocrisy: their political agenda seeks the weakening of Israel through image-destruction, to accommodate their Jew-hate.
They could not care less about Gazans.
If they would really care, then they would seek the liberation of Gazans from Hamas, the terror organization, the Iranian regime's puppet, instead of whining about fabricated "Israeli war crimes" and facilitating Hamas' terror by not condemning it.
Venting their antisemitism is more pleasant for them than honestly promoting peace.
AJC's hard-hitting, 5-minute video about the lies and libels targeting Israel.
"Peace is more than the absence of war. And there can not be real peace, for as long as Israel is vilified".
(5) melanie judah, 15/3/2009
relief to hear some truth
i'm so sick of hearing about these tales of israelis wrong doings, we have been a country called israel for thousands of years and i'm proud of her. she's back in the hands of people who love her, keep telling the world how it really is and kick those crackpots off their band wagons. i was all for the respect party when it came about but after what i've heard galloway say i hope it's days are numbered.

(4) Feigele, 15/3/2009
You have to be Jewish to understand
Unfortunately, you have to be Jewish to really understand and care for what it is said about Israel. The others just don't care and would listen to just anything what is falsely said about Israel. In fact, they even wish Israel didn't exist and they blame Israel for all the fights and even the recession today. To them, it doesn't matter who wins. I sent an email to Rachel Maddow from NBC complaining about a story on NBC that I read online, which worded that Israel started the fights with the Palestinians in Gaza. I was appalled. I'm sure it was a wording mistake from their part since I think they support Israel. I have not heard back from her. It shows that you have to be very careful how you word your stories. Not only G-d gave the Arabs oil but also the skill to lie. Today Bin Laden calls it "Holocaust", does he know the meaning of the word? Someone should send him tapes of the real Holocaust.

(3) Anonymous, 15/3/2009
Important to forward the truth.
Israel has been villified with unfair lying propaganda constantly. It's time to stress the truth to counter. The shielding of terrorists using civilians and the storage of armament in schools, mosques, and civilian homes should have been included in the video to expose the terrorists who wear masks but no military markings too! Thank you.

(1) Moshe Rosen, 15/3/2009
The REAL disproportion
Since Palestinian advocates claim Israel acts "disproportionately", they don't understand REAL disproportion when they conflate to the MSM that there are more casualties than actually reported. Furthermore, it is disproportionate to call what Israel is doing to defend herself as "war crimes" and "genocide" considering that Hamas has an ongoing campaign of firing rockets into Israeli cities...Now, why is it that so few people realize that Hamas is the root of the (current) conflict in Israel and Gaza?