Friday, June 25, 2010

Urgent Palestinian human rights problems

----- Original Message -----
From: Ami-gmail
To: inews
Sent: Friday, June 25, 2010 1:39 PM
Subject: Urgent Palestinian human rights problems

On Breaking Israel's Naval Blockade

by Khaled Abu Toameh
June 22, 2010 at 5:00 am


Here is some last-minute advice to the group of women who are planning to organize another aid ship to break the Israeli naval blockade on the Gaza Strip: Do not forget to wear the hijab and cover other parts of your body before you arrive at the Hamas-controlled area. And make sure that none of you is seen laughing in public.

Otherwise, you are likely to meet the same fate as other Palestinian women who have been physically and verbally abused by fundamentalist Muslims in the Gaza Strip.

Some women in the Gaza Strip have had acid splashed in their faces for allegedly being dressed "immodestly" or for being seen in public with a male who is not a husband, father, brother or son.

Just recently, Hamas's Committee for the Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice stopped female journalist Asthma al-Ghul under the pretext that she came to the beach dressed "immodestly" and was seen laughing in public.

"They accused me of laughing loudly while swimming with my friend, and for failing to wear a hijab," she told a human rights organization in the Gaza Strip. "They also wanted to know the identity of the people who were swimming with me at the beach and whether they were relatives of mine."

This incident came only days after a Hamas judge ordered all female lawyers appearing in court to wear headscarves and a long, dark colored clock under their black robes.

By seeking to help Hamas, the women who are planning to sail to the Gaza Strip are in fact encouraging the fundamentalist movement to continue oppressing Palestinian women living there.

Wouldn't it have been better and more helpful had the same group of female activists launched a campaign to promote women's rights under Hamas? Or to protest against the severe restrictions imposed by Hamas on all women, including the right to stroll along the beach alone or to wear a swim suit?

Moreover, it is ironic (and sad) that some of the women who are behind the new flotilla adventure come from Lebanon, Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Kuwait - countries that not only have killed Palestinians, but also continue to oppress them and impose severe restrictions on them.

As for the Egyptian women activists, it would be helpful if they would advise their colleagues to sail toward Egypt, whose authorities are also imposing a blockade on the Gaza Strip and continuing to prevent humanitarian aid from entering the area. The Egyptians are also continuing to prevent tens of thousands of Palestinians from using the Rafah border crossing to travel abroad.

Have the Kuwaiti women on the planned trip ever thought about protesting against the mistreatment of Palestinians in their emirate?

Following the 1991 Gulf War, Kuwait expelled some 400,000 Palestinians who were part of a thriving immigrant community in the emirate. The Palestinians were being punished because of the PLO's support for Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait a year earlier.

Most recently, Palestinians complained that Kuwait denied entry permits for members of a Palestinian team of disabled athletes who were supposed to take part in an international tournament in the emirate. "The decision came from the Kuwaiti Foreign Ministry under the pretext that the team members hold Palestinian passports," CNN quoted Palestinian sources as saying.

And why don't the Lebanese women who are planning the journey to the Gaza Strip organize a tour to Nahr al-Bared, a Palestinian refugee camp in northern Lebanon that was totally destroyed by the Lebanese army in 2007?

According to a recent report in the Electronic Intifada Web site, "reconstruction of the camp is delayed, the area is a military soon with restricted access, and the camp's economy is stalled and residents are largely employed."

The same report states that before the war, "around two-thirds of Nahr al-Bared's labor force worked within the camp's boundaries. As Palestinian refugees face heavy legal and social discrimination in the Lebanese labor market, working outside the camp is difficult."

Lebanon, Syria and Jordan have more Palestinian blood on their hands than any other country.


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Fars News Agency Report:"Israeli Air Force in Sauidi Arabia

The following report of the Fars News agency dated June 23 and  translated by Google, claims that Israeli planes landed at a base in Northwest Saudi Arabia, evidently to prepare for missions inside Iran. The translation is poor of course. There is no way of telling if this report is a total fiction or not. It is probably interesting only as an indication of the state of relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia.  Here is the Arabic original for whoever wants to fix the translation.

Military activities, suspicious of the Zionist entity in the region - Tabuk - Asaudipokalp Persia: landed several planes of the Zionist entity in the past days at Tabuk airport international at a distance of 9 kilometers from the city center to come down, including a group of Zionist military and their equipment Ascripozkr report Fars site - Islam Times - Bri that the Zionist entity has created for himself a military base in Tabuk North West Saudi Arabia, where it landed at this base a few days ago a group of aircraft belonging to an entity, while taking away with them military equipment at a time announced the establishment of Saudi Arabia Airlines to cancel flights internal and external on June 18 to 19 to coincide with the landing of Zionism. He said one of the passengers from Jeddah to Tabuk airport officials said they transferred passengers to a four-star hotels with them living expenses at the expense of the government to absorb the anger from flight delays but officials at Tabuk airport declined to give reasons for flight suddenly.

This step aims and Saudi Arabia all to develop the full potential of this country to hit the resistance line in the Muslim world, which led to Muslims in all the world against Alec business. The city of Tabuk from seven large cities in Saudi Arabia and enjoy the quality of the weather and the large number of water and the city administration is by Prince Fahd bin Sultan bin Abdul Aziz, but the confidential relationships with the Zionist entity is frequently talked about in the city.

/ The end of the news /

Is the Lebanese Gaza flotilla ship Miriam a phantom?

The IDF  reports the following:
The Saudi newspaper "Al-Shaq Al-Awsat" [should be "As-Sharq-al-Awsat] is reporting today that, according to the Lebanese Minister of Transport, the women's' ship "Miriam" is fictitious, and the Lebanese flotilla consists of just one vessel – the French-registered "Julia", which has taken the name "Naji El'adi". A source close to the flotilla, who refused to be identified, told the newspaper that the flotilla's organizers are encountering difficulties. He added that the vessel "Naji El'adi", which will fly the Bolivian flag, will carry just 1000 tonnes of equipment, and 16 people on board, 7 of them crew members. This comes in spite of reports that there will be 50 journalists, as well as dozens more human rights activists and European members of parliament, on board.

He also noted that another option exists: that the flotilla's organizers will rent another boat. In any case, however, there is no expectation that the flotilla will depart from Lebanon to Cyprus in the next 2-3 days.

Throughout the day on Tuesday, maintenance work continued on the "Naji El'adi", while soldiers from the Lebanese Army guarded the vessel and prevented people from approaching it. Workers at the port told the
newspaper that cargo has not yet been loaded onto the ship.

Regarding the international perspective on the ship, the newspaper reported that a large number of foreign embassies in Beirut expressed suspicion that their citizens will participate in the flotilla, and even approached the Lebanese government about this, though this is probably not intended to achieve anything to prevent them from sailing to Gaza.

In conclusion: According to this report, it can be seen that the key operations currently being undertaken by the organizers of the Lebanese flotilla media-oriented only.

On the other hand, Samar Al-Hajj – the organizer of the women's flotilla – was interviewed today by Al Jazeera and said that all the preparations for the departure of the ship "Miriam" have been completed, and that soon the ship will set out on its journey. It is interesting to note, however, that the very reporter from Al Jazeera that interviewed Al-Hajj expressed doubt about this.
The report is also posted at Doc's Talk

Free Gaza Now!

My Word: Free thinking
Jerusalem Post

It's not Israel that is curtailing freedom in Gaza.

I have decided to join the Free Gaza movement. My first goal is to make sure that every last Israeli soldier leaves Gaza. Well, admittedly there is only one IDF soldier there, but it has been proving very hard to get Gilad Schalit out. If we can persuade Hamas to release Schalit four years after it abducted him, Gaza will be free of an Israeli military presence. This won't be easy, especially because even the human rights activists willing to risk their lives to reach Gaza weren't prepared to ask that Schalit be allowed to meet with Red Cross officials or receive a care package from his family.
Next, I want the women of Gaza to feel free. I'm not known for either my feminism or my dress sense but I can see that a state in which Hamas heavies are forcing schoolgirls to cover up cannot be healthy.
Again, I might be fighting a losing battle: Almost lost among the media coverage of the May 31 flotilla affair – with its nine fatalities – was an item on the five brave women journalists who quit Al Jazeera rather than give in to the Qatar-based network's demands that they wear head scarves and forgo makeup.
Also, it is clear to me (although not apparently to the flotilla's participants) that parents should be free to choose which summer camp their kids attend. Last month, masked gunmen torched the premises of a UN-run summer camp in Gaza and left behind three bullets and a note threatening to kill top UN aid officials unless they cancel activities for some 250,000 Gaza children. Hamas runs its own summer camps, which seem to stress militancy for boys and modesty for girls but are a little lacking in the arts and crafts department.
I used to have contacts in Gaza, but they were associated with Fatah rather than Hamas and they've disappeared: At least one escaped to the West Bank when Hamas took over; those who remain are wary of being openly in touch with Israeli journalists (modestly dressed female or otherwise). That could be because Hamas has a history of executing people it suspects of links with the Zionists. OK, on a good day, they might settle for "kneecapping."
IN FACT it strikes me that while the nearly 700 participants of the now-famous flotilla were struggling to get into Gaza – unwilling to accept Israel's offer to pass on their humanitarian aid instead of them delivering it personally – thousands of Gazans would do almost anything to get out. And it's not because of the Israeli-Egyptian blockade: It's because Hamastan does not give a damn about human rights and is not a nice place to live.
Although it might be all right if you're not a woman and belong to the right family. Ahead of the flotilla's departure, the Israel Government Press Office released details of the other side of life in the Strip. Like many journalists, I found the tone patronizing but couldn't help but be intrigued by the information that Gaza recently opened an Olympic-size swimming pool.
Since I'm involved in the struggle to keep open Jerusalem's only Olympic-size pool (under threat by real-estate developers), I'm wondering if I can pick up some tips on nonviolent ways to handle the campaign. When I say "nonviolent," that means I rule out the use of guns, knives, baseball bats and Molotov cocktails – which I admit is a little limiting in view of the methods used by the "peace lovers" aboard the Mavi Marmara.
I actually feel sorry for some of the flotilla's participants. The pure-hearted, naive pro-peace camp was taken for a ride by the Islamic anti-Israel organizers and ended up in the same boat, as it were, or at least the same flotilla. But the growing red-green alliance (in which the far Left has joined with the Islamists) is a strange one, and I'm not surprised the result is a dirty brown.
Incidentally, Hamas is now keeping the "humanitarian aid" from entering Gaza from Israel – so much for the desperate Gazans.
I DON'T BLAME the navy for what Post editor-in-chief David Horovitz summed up as the "flotilla fiasco." There is something extraordinarily pathetic in the way the naval commandos – trained for war but told they'd be facing peaceniks – boarded the ships armed with paint guns. The government – led by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak – ordered an operation which Israel could not win. Undoubtedly they were influenced by the famous (and successful) operations of their younger days: liberating the hijacked Sabena plane, for example. But not all real war is fought on the ground, at sea or in the skies any more. It's waged in cyberspace and the world media.
When I mentioned to friends and colleagues my "think roses not guns" idea regarding the ships, it raised a smile, but, with more vessels on the way, I still think it's worth considering. I suggested Israel physically block the boats so that it would be the so-called peace seekers who'd have to ram Israeli ships rather than the Israelis "attacking" them. And then, instead of sending soldiers rappelling down onto the decks – where it was clear that they would not be met with hugs – I proposed that Israel bombard them with pamphlets informing them about Hamas-dominated life in Gaza, the missile attacks on Sderot and the South and the fate of Gilad Schalit. And I suggested we should drop quantities of roses on the participants. Bloodshed would be limited to the occasional prick (you can interpret that any way you like) while the cameras would have a decent image to spread around the world – not more warlike Israeli soldiers. Roses – the sweet smell of non-defeat.
I doubt it would have persuaded many on the ships to change their opinions of Israelis, but it would have prevented the sickening waves of international condemnation screened on Israeli TV alongside the footage of soldiers being beaten, stabbed and in at least one case thrown from the deck of the Mavi Marmara by the ostensibly nonviolent protesters.
On a visit to Dublin a few years ago, I participated in a literary pub crawl. Irish peace supporters on the next boats might be warned that they can't drink alcohol in public in Gaza.
During a visit to Istanbul in 2004, a year after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan came
to power, life seemed easygoing: Turkey had just won the Eurovision Song Contest, the nightclubs were pulsating, the cultural life was thriving.
Turks – and the rest of the world – might wonder about the implications of Erdogan choosing to ally himself firmly with the likes of Hamas, Syria and Iran. When the country goes to the polls again next year, voters should consider whether they want the sort of freedom they were enjoying when Erdogan first came to power or the type of Islamist restrictions and repression the prime minister's allies prefer.
Meanwhile in Israel, a free people is making the most of life – albeit under a high security alert. Tel Aviv is holding a beer festival; Jerusalem is celebrating the 49th Israel Festival; Sderot (missiles notwithstanding) is the venue of its annual international film festival; and Hebrew Book Week events are taking place across the country. So it's not all bad news.
And at least Israel has united the global village like nothing else, with perhaps the exception of the World Cup. Too bad we know what it's like to be the ball.

The writer is the editor of The International Jerusalem Post.

INSS: The Cloud's Silver Linings: The Flotilla to Gaza

INSS Insight No. 189, June 23, 2010
Shalom, Zaki
Although too little time has elapsed since the flotilla episode to allow full perspective, it is already clear that the operational failure involving the takeover of the Mavi Marmara and the international criticism of Israel's action have damaged Israel's international standing, its image as a law abiding state, and its strategic relations with Turkey and other countries. This is the newest expression of a reality that has accompanied Israel over the years: in the given circumstances, an operational mishap, even if confined to a narrow tactical level, can sometimes have far reaching strategic implications. While presumably this is understood by the decision making echelon in Israel, it is less clear to what extent this has been internalized within the operational echelon.
Still, while recognizing the serious negative aspects of the flotilla incident, a balanced review also reveals some dimensions that from Israel's point of view are quite positive. First, the international community, led by the American administration, has granted almost full recognition to Israel's fundamental right to prevent the supply of weapons to Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The implication might be that Israel is entitled to impose a naval blockade on Gaza in order to prevent the smuggling of arms – although this understanding was accompanied by calls to significantly ease the land blockade and allow entry of more goods and commodities, barring specific materials that could strengthen Hamas's military strength and its ability to attack Israel. Furthermore, Israel was asked to agree to a move whereby the authority to inspect goods entering the Gaza Strip would be given to a third party, almost certainly a European country.
From Israel's viewpoint, this is a political achievement that should not be underestimated. True, inspection by a foreign entity, even a credible, respectable country would not be as tight and secure as Israeli inspection, and there would likely be quite a few instances of smuggling of arms into Gaza. This is a reality Israel will have to learn to live with. Yet even tight Israeli inspection cannot guarantee entirely against dangerous weapons infiltrating into Gaza, and thus the arrangement that is taking shape appears to be one that Israel can be satisfied with.
A second positive result of the flotilla incident was scored in the relationship between Israel and the US. During the course of UN discussions on the flotilla, the American administration made it clear it would not lend a hand to a sweeping assault on Israel's standing or its legitimate right to defend itself and investigate its own actions. The decision to establish an Israeli commission of inquiry that includes foreign observers of recognized international status is convenient for Israel, despite the element that bespeaks a small undermining of Israel's sovereignty. The fact that the American administration gave its full backing to the decision opened the way for a quiet and matter of fact Israeli-American strategic dialogue. This dialogue will likely end with the hammering out of an arrangement concerning the Gaza blockade, in cooperation with European countries.
This strategic dialogue between Israel and the Obama administration may symbolize the turning over of a new leaf in US-Israel bilateral relations. Following a difficult period of tension, muscle flexing, and mudslinging, it seems that both sides, but mainly the Obama administration, have concluded that such a reality serves neither the vital interests of Israel nor the US. The two sides have learned gradually, and to a great extent the hard way, to recognize the limitations of their strength. They have understood the need to debate the strategic issues that are important to them in a way that is fair, businesslike, and discreet – and far from the eyes of the media. 
Beyond this, the Gaza flotilla and the events in its wake have emphasized the "common destiny" shared by Israel and the Palestinian Authority, headed by Abu Mazen. The Palestinian Authority, and not only Israel, is greatly interested in preventing the strengthening of Hamas in Gaza on both a military and political level. Sweeping criticism of Israel following its apparent operational failure in taking over the Turkish ship plus the huge sympathy exhibited in the international arena towards Hamas, the "victim of Israeli occupation," almost certainly worried heads of the Palestinian Authority, and not only Israel. The primary concern is over the possibility of an avalanche of international criticism that forces Israel to totally rescind the Gaza blockade. This could lead to the dramatic strengthening of Hamas in the Gaza Strip as well as on the Palestinian "street" in the West Bank. As such, it would generate a threat not only to Israel but also to the PA.
This accentuation of the "strategic partnership" between Israel and the Palestinian Authority may lead to the PA adopting more pragmatic and moderate stances towards Israel in the context of the peace process. The PA's policy towards Israel in the past year has been noteworthy for its blunt and extreme approach, based in part on the assumption that the Obama administration would embrace the PA's extreme positions and impose conditions convenient to the PA on Israel. The Obama administration's demand that Israel freeze settlement activity in all of Judea and Samaria, and later in East Jerusalem as well, symbolized from a PA viewpoint the great success of this posture. The fact is that both individually and together, Israel and the PA face a serious threat from Hamas and its regional and international allies. It is highly possible that the spotlight on this reality will lead the PA to adopt more realistic positions that will advance the peace process between both sides.
The flotilla episode stressed the fact that Israel is joined at the hip to the Gaza Strip; in fact it seems that in the foreseeable future Israel has no option whatsoever to sever itself from the Strip. In the five years since the disengagement, this reality has gradually seeped into Israeli society and its leadership. However, different circles continue to entertain the existence of an option for a total detachment of the two sides. It appears that the events of the flotilla have put an end to this severance idea. From now on, the Israeli leadership will have to act based on the assumption that Israel cannot in the near future remove from its shoulders its responsibility for the Gaza Strip and its population. If this indeed is the situation, Israel would do well to come to terms with this reality and act accordingly.
Finally, the events of the flotilla underscored the difficulties in realizing a state of demilitarization as part of an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord based on the two-state solution. Numerous proponents of the accord have for years argued that Israel should not fear for its security following the establishment of a Palestinian state, as it would be a demilitarized state. Israel would provide for the creation of mechanisms that bar the infiltration of heavy weapons into the Palestinian state. It is also argued that the international community too, mainly the European countries, would be ready to lend a hand and contribute to enforcing demilitarization. If PA security forces are armed only with light personal weapons, it is clearly in their best interest to enforce law within the PA rather than wage war against Israel. Practically speaking, the events of the flotilla prove that maintaining demilitarization over time necessitates the goodwill of Palestinian governing authorities in the new state and their cooperating to preserve demilitarization. Israel will also have to take into account the possibility of the absence of goodwill.
It is possible that Israel will face situations similar to the flotilla incident in which heavy international pressure is exerted on it to avoid taking steps to enforce demilitarization. At the end of the day, enforcing demilitarization is not impossible. However, in order to guarantee it, explicit and firm arrangements are required, including under circumstances where there is no cooperation from the Palestinian side.

Can Israel be Extricated from the Gaza Triangle?

INSS Insight No. 191, June 23, 2010
Brom, Shlomo
In the course of the public debate in Israel following the interception of the Gaza flotilla, Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz proposed that Israel seal all crossings into Gaza entirely, while Egypt open the Rafah crossing that separates Egypt from the Gaza Strip. According to this proposal, all goods traveling into and out of Gaza would go through the Rafah crossing. The plan did not receive much attention in Israel because it seemed not practical, but the Egyptian government responded harshly, saying Israel could not shirk its responsibility for the Gaza Strip. This Egyptian response is highly indicative of the tangled reality of Israel-Egypt relations within the Israel-Egypt-Gaza triangle.
The episode reflects where the two countries converge in their attitudes to Hamas rule in Gaza and where they differ, and the undercurrents that influence their respective approaches to the problem. On the Israeli side, Katz's proposal reflects a prevalent attitude in Israel that was illustrated most fully in the unilateral disengagement from Gaza. According to this approach, the desired solution to the Gaza problem is Israel's total disengagement from Gaza – not only in the evacuation of the IDF and the settlements from Gaza, but in the severance of all contact, including the transfer of people and goods and the supply of electricity and water. The premise is that following a disengagement of this sort, Israel's responsibility for Gaza would expire. However, two hurdles must be overcome for this idea to be realized. The first concerns disengaging from Gaza without causing a humanitarian disaster that would be ascribed directly to Israel. The second concerns the question of how to disengage from Gaza entirely without its becoming an even more difficult security problem, given the loss of control over the flow of weapons into the area.
Supporters of the total disengagement approach understand that Egypt's role is central to these two questions. The alternative to any route via Israel for the overland transfer of goods in and out of Gaza is the Rafah crossing. The alternatives for transferring goods by air or sea are less suitable. Gaza has no real seaport and the loading ability of the existing marina is meager; moreover, there is no satisfactory way to supervise goods transferred thus and prevent the smuggling of weapons. As to the question of arms smuggling and security, it is ostensibly in Egypt's interest to prevent the smuggling of weapons via the Rafah crossing. However, this assumption is problematic, as from Israel's standpoint Egypt's response to the problem of weapons smuggling via tunnels is far from satisfactory. Moreover, even if this land smuggling were contained, a solution for goods transferred via sea and air is also necessary. Such a solution could hinge either on continuing the naval and air blockade or finding an international solution that would enable control at ports of departure. If the naval and air blockade continues, it would be difficult to persuade the international community that Israel no longer bears responsibility for Gaza.
In any case, this is not the prime obstacle to the realization of the total disengagement idea. Rather, the full implication is the understanding that Israel would be placing the Gazan baby on Egypt's doorstep. This approach presumably reflects the desire among many in Israel that Egypt assume – or more precisely, resume – full responsibility for Gaza. In other words, the goal is to return to the situation prior to the Six Day War in which the Egyptian military controlled the Gaza Strip and was responsible for security there.
Egypt's behavior following the flotilla incident may have suggested possible feasibility to Minister Katz's idea. It announced the continuous opening of the Rafah crossing with no time limitations. However, this was ultimately not the case. The crossing was opened only for the movement of people. Furthermore it is still doubtful whether Egypt will maintain this policy or return to the previous policy of opening the crossing for limited time periods only. Egypt's basic policy has not changed, and its testy response to Minister Katz's remarks was a solid indication of that. Ever since the implementation of the disengagement, Egypt has suspected that Israel – at the official echelon and not only among certain circles – would thrust Gaza into Cairo's lap. Thus Egypt expresses its strong opposition to the idea at every opportunity, and is not eager to receive this "poisoned apple." Its responses to concrete issues on the Gaza crossings regime are taken in accordance with this basic policy.
Egypt is indeed worried by developments in Gaza and derides the Hamas rule there, largely because in the eyes of the Egyptian regime, Hamas is a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood – the main political challenge to its rule. A Hamas government in territory adjoining Egypt is a problem for the regime; in addition, there are concerns over a spillover of concrete problems into Egyptian territory. This fear was realized with the exposure of a Hizbollah network in Egypt that smuggled weapons into Gaza and acted against the regime. However in the Egyptian view, the cost for assuming responsibility for the Gaza Strip is high, and in any case would not solve the problem as far as Egypt is concerned but only aggravate it and increase the likelihood of Gaza problems encroaching on Egypt.
For Egypt, the current situation is preferable, whereby Egypt cooperates with Israel to contain the Hamas regime in Gaza while Israel pays the price for this policy. Egypt only has to act intermittently to placate its domestic public opinion when it is aroused by the plight of the "Palestinian brothers" under the "siege." But this it can do at a relatively low price. For example, in the wake of the flotilla incident, which ignited passions on the Egyptian street, the decision was made to open the Rafah crossing probably temporarily.
The Egyptians feel that a more thorough solution to the problem of Gaza is possible only via political processes in the Palestinian Authority that weaken Hamas and strengthen the government in Ramallah. Thus since Hamas took over the Gaza Strip, the Egyptians have been trying to mediate a reconciliation between the government in Ramallah and Hamas. They ensure that their mediation proposals will not be such that strengthen Hamas. This is the main reason that Hamas up to now has not accepted Egyptian proposals for a thawing of relations, which it views as a trap. Egyptian support for intra-Palestinian reconciliation is an additional element of dispute between Israel and Egypt. Israel sharply opposes such reconciliation and will refuse to cooperate with a Palestinian government that has Hamas as a partner.
Israel should understand: it can rely on Egypt's cooperation in containing and weakening Hamas rule in Gaza, but not at the price of full responsibility for the Gaza Strip. Any attempt by Israel to chart this course will detract from its ability to cooperate with Egypt and almost certainly fail. At the same time, it may be useful to examine whether Egypt's approach concerning the intra-Palestinian reconciliation process might also serve Israeli interests. Containment is a strategy that can be useful temporarily, but it does not bring about a sustainable stable situation.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Israel and common humanity

From Normblog, we have the following, which provides some perspective on recent events in the Middle East.

Fintan O'Toole thinks that Israel regards itself as 'exempt from the demands of common humanity' (via Z Word Blog). Iain Banks thinks that 'simple human decency' means nothing to Israel (see this normblog post).

Two well-known writers, very anxious to tell the world that Israel lacks humanity. Israel's not like the rest of us, the rest of the human family. Compared to other nations, it's inhuman. It doesn't recognize what everyone else knows about, the simple requirements of being decently human. It ought to recognize these things, it isn't hard to do so, since they're so simple; and most other people do, since they're part of common humanity.

Leave aside the sinister provenance of that claim, and let's just consider it on its own.

Turkey has killed between 30,000 and 40,000 Kurds in the last 30 years; it occupies North Cyprus; it blockades Armenia and denies its own historical genocide. But Israel lacks simple human decency.

Sri Lanka, at the same time that Israel was fighting in Gaza (around 1300 dead) killed about 25,000 of its own civilians in the course of repressing an insurgency. But Israel thinks it's exempt from the demands of common humanity.

Sudan has killed something in the order of 200,000 people in Darfur, with countless rapes and tortures alongside. But Israel lacks simple human decency.

Iran rapes and tortures and murders its own dissidents who ask for democracy; it hangs young gays, it oppresses women. But Israel thinks it's exempt from the demands of common humanity.

Yemen is blockading South Yemen, it lets no food, medicine or water through; unlike Israel, which lets around 15,000 tons of supplies into Gaza every week. But Israel lacks simple human decency.

Egypt is considering a law to strip their citizenship from any Egyptian who marries an Israeli; it persecutes Copts; it blockades Gaza. But Israel thinks it's exempt from the demands of common humanity.

Russia kills 25,000 to 50,000 Chechens, and almost completely razes the capital city of Grozny; its soldiers inflict hideous tortures on their prisoners before killing them; investigative journalists are murdered. But Israel lacks simple human decency.

China kills somewhere between half a million and one and a quarter million Tibetans in the course of quashing Tibet's independence. But Israel thinks it's exempt from the demands of common humanity.

In Pakistan, Christian churches are burned, hundreds of Ahmadiyyas are killed, violence towards women is endemic. But Israel lacks simple human decency.

In Saudi Arabia, no churches are allowed, no Israeli Jews may enter, women are subject to gender apartheid. But Israel thinks it's exempt from the demands of common humanity.

Congo: what can one say about Congo? More than that 5 million - 5 million - people have been killed in its wars, alongside innumerable rapes and hideous tortures? But Israel lacks simple human decency.

Now, here's one especially for Iain Banks: the USA and the UK initiate a war in Iraq in which more than 100,000 Iraqi civilians are killed. But Israel thinks it's exempt from the demands of common humanity.

France trained and armed the Hutu genocidaires who killed around 800,000 civilians in the Rwanda genocide, and continued to protect them even as they lost power to the incoming Tutsis. But Israel lacks simple human decency.

Three things to note. First, most of the other cases I've mentioned have involved far worse horrors than anything Israel has done. But Israel is the one which Banks and O'Toole charge, not with acting wrongly, or having bad judgement, but with being deliberately impervious to morality, with not even rising to the most basic level of decency. Banks and O'Toole (and indeed many others) level this charge at Israel alone. We won't be hearing them say that the Chinese are deliberately impervious to morality, or that the Turks lack simple human decency. Only Israel. Why is this?

Second, we can't in fact leave aside the sinister provenance of these charges. O'Toole at least claims to know about the Holocaust, and what led to that horror; it's possible that Banks knows something about it too. It's a commonplace of historical explanation that one of the enabling factors was the dehumanization of the Jews, the constant Nazi propaganda about how they weren't fully human, how they didn't have the normal moral sentiments and beliefs, about how they saw themselves as the chosen people, above ordinary morality. Here we see these dehumanizing lies being reproduced, 60 years later, about Israel, and only about Israel. Why is this?

Third, and most importantly, every point I've made in this post has been made before, by many others, many many times: forcefully, cogently, analytically; both passionately and dispassionately; with humour and with despair. It hasn't made the slightest difference to the likes of Banks and O'Toole. Nor to the many others shouting or whispering at us, in the teeth of the evidence, that Gaza is the new Warsaw Ghetto, and that Israel is really Nazi Germany come again - and so it's fine to hate Israel, it's to your credit to hate it, it shows the world that you have simple human decency.

Why is this? And where will it lead? (Eve Garrard)

Archive of materials related to Israel, Zionism and the conflict

We have put online an archive of news items, documents and video links relevant to Zionism and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We hope you find it useful. Please do link to the archives and to individual pages within them. Bloggers and site owners who wish to copy these pages and duplicate them at their own Web sites are welcome to do so, provided they link back to the original, which may be updated from time to time. Volunteers who wish to contribute items or improve the archive should write to zio-web-owner(at)
Contents thus far:

Israel News Archives May-June 2010

Israel News Archives March-April 2010

Israel News Archives January-February 2010

Israel News Archives November-December 2009

Israel News Archives September-October 2009

Israel News Archives July-August 2009

Israel News Archives May-June 2009

Israel News Archives March-April 2009

Israel News Archives January-February 2009

Israel News Archives November-December 2008

Israel News Archives September-October 2008

Israel News Archives July-August 2008

Israel News Archives May-June 2008

Israel News Archives March-April 2008

Israel News Archives January-February 2008

Israel News Archives November-December 2007

Israel News Archives September-October 2007

Israel News Archives July-August 2007

Israel News Archives May-June 2007

Israel News Archives March-April 2007

Israel News Archives January-February 2007

Israel News Archives November-December 2006

Israel News Archives September-October 2006

Israel News Archives July-August 2006

Israel News Archives May-June 2006

Israel News Archives March-April 2006

Israel News Archives January-February 2006

Israel News Archives November-December 2005

Israel News Archives September-October 2005

Israel News Archives July-August 2005

Israel News Archives January_June 2005

Israel News Archives July_December 2004

Israel News Archives January_June 2004

Israel News Archives July_December 2003

Israel News Archives January_June 2003

Israel News Archives July_December 2002

Israel News Archives January_June 2002

Israel News Archives 2001

Israel News Archives 2000

Israel Documents and News Archives-1919-1999

Why are American Jews alienated from Israel?

Identity Check
By Yehudah Mirsky

Central to a recent, hotly-debated essay by Peter Beinart is the contention that younger American Jews, overwhelmingly of liberal disposition, are increasingly distanced and alienated from Israel—and that the major reason why is to be found in Israel's own posture and behavior.  Is this indeed so?

Beyond Distancing  Steven M. Cohen, Ari Y. Kelman,  Reboot/Berman Jewish Policy Archive.  The alienation of young American Jews from Israel is a function of age, not of politics.
Wrong Numbers  Theodore Sasson, Len Saxe,  Tablet.  Peter Beinart is wrong to say that liberalism means alienation from Israel.
The Continuity of Discontinuity  Steven M. Cohen, Ari Y. Kelman,  Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies/ Berman Jewish Policy Archive.  Out of their discomfort with established institutions, some young Jews are creating new organizational frameworks.
A Connected Critic  Micha Odenheimer,  Eretz Acheret.  Faithfulness to one's own is a prerequisite for a commitment to humanity: an interview with Michael Walzer.
Among the sources cited by Beinart is a 2007 study by the sociologists Steven M. Cohen and Ari Y. Kelman. Yet, although stipulating an unmistakable decline, at all ages, in the level of American Jewish identification with Israel and comfort with the idea of a Jewish state, Cohen and Kelman conclude that "contrary to widely held beliefs, left-liberal political identity is not primarily responsible for driving down the Israel-attachment scores among the non-Orthodox." Instead, they find intermarriage to be a far more meaningful correlative of lessened identification, while travel to Israel correlates with greater attachment. A subsequent study by Cohen and Sam Abrams comes to similar conclusions.
In a 2008 paper of their own, the sociologists Leonard Saxe and Theodore Sasson argue that while, among the non-Orthodox, younger Jews are less identified with Israel than older, that is nothing new: historically, American Jews' attachments to Israel deepen with age.  They also find American Jews to be both politically centrist and fundamentally committed to Israel's existence, aside from whatever views they may hold on particular issues like settlements and Palestinian statehood. For Saxe and Sasson, two variables exercise decisive influence over American Jewish attitudes: trips to Israel like those sponsored by Birthright (on which the pair have written a number of studies) and the overall climate of U.S. opinion, with "the increasingly pro-Israel orientation of the American public likely provid[ing] support for specifically Jewish feelings of attachment."
From all this there flow three conclusions and three questions. The first conclusion has to do with the divide between Orthodox and non-Orthodox Jews; the attachment of the former to Israel is deep at all ages. The second is that, although younger non-Orthodox Jews are indeed less attached to Israel than are their elders, Israeli policies are not the reason why. And the third is that bedrock American support for Israel is an important factor.  
As for the questions, one concerns whether today's young Jews will grow into a deeper identification as family, community, and continuity assume greater significance in their lives. Crucial variables here include the growing rate of intermarriage and all that it implies for the maintenance of a distinctive Jewish identity, as well as the cluster of general social and cultural trends that is loosening attachments to place and ethnicity among the classes in which Jews are prominently represented.
A second, related question is whether today's Jewish organizations—communal, religious, and political—will be attractive to younger Jews as time goes by. And a third is what will happen to their identification with Israel should elite opinion, notably in the academic and international circles now heaping criticism on the country, become decisively more determinative of Jewish attitudes than is American public opinion at large.
In sum, the attachments of young American Jews to both Israel and Judaism rise and fall due to a range of commitments, experiences, and values that are themselves subject to the winds of history and the vicissitudes of circumstance. Specific Israeli policies are one, by no means decisive, element in the mix.  Which leads to a final question: what can and should be done now, by Israel, the Jewish community—and by young Jews and non-Jews to whom Israel matters vitally—to strengthen each other at a time when legitimate criticism of Israel increasingly merges with de-legitimization and demonization, and to make Israel's cause a source of living import and pride? 

Monday, June 21, 2010

The real Arab agenda

An Arab Israeli Druze discusses the Arab agenda, and focuses on Middle East problems that are never discussed because of the almost exclusive focus on Israel. This is a very different Arab voice from the ones you are used to hearing.
He describes Arab human rights violations, murder, torture, disfiguring attacks with acid, pedophilia, cruelty to gays and to animals among other unpleasant faces of reality.

UPDATE: Video was removed and replaced with a better version!

Arab Druze Israeli: God Bless Israel

A gay Arab Druze Israeli explains his support for Israel and discusses the Flotilla. He says "God Bless Israel - That I am Arab and Druze and Gay and that I have a place in Israel to be what I want to be, to achieve what I want to achieve."
UPDATE- Sorry - the video has been removed - probably due to death threats.

Lebanese "humanitarian" behind Gaza boats: Israeli Jews should "go back to Poland"

The Jerusalem Post provides the following informative portrait of Yasser Kashlak, the man behind the "humanitarian" boats being sent from Lebanon to Gaza:
Meanwhile, Yasser Kashlak, a Syrian businessman of Palestinian descent who heads the "Free Palestine Organization" and is funding this boat, as well as another that is to carry journalists and parliamentarians, said over the weekend on Hizbullah's al-Manar television station that he was more and more optimistic that one day these same boats would take "Europe's refuse [the Jews] that came to my homeland back to their homelands.
"Gilad Schalit should go back to Paris and those murderers go back to Poland, and after that we will chase them until the ends of the earth to bring them to justice for their acts of slaughter from Deir Yassin until today." Kashlak, a fervent Hizbullah supporter, called Israel a "rabid dog sent to the region to frighten the Arabs. He said he had a message for Israelis: 'Get on the ships we are sending you and go back to your lands. Don't let the moderate Arab leaders delude you, [you] cannot make peace with us. Our children will return to Palestine, you have no reason for coexistence. Even if our leaders will sign a peace agreement, we will not sign.'" He said the boat carrying journalists and parliamentarians will carry 12 former American diplomats as well..
The nature of the mission and its initiator seem to be clear. The IDF would be foolish to suppose this ship can be boarded peacefully. The world would be foolish to characterize the voyage as a "humanitarian" "peace" mission.
Ami Issroff 

Sunday, June 20, 2010

An expert answers questions about the Gaza flotilla

Humerous, informative and to the point.   
The state we're in
Dear Spengler,
I won the Nobel Peace prize for reconciling Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland. I'm presently on a ship in the Mediterranean trying to bring humanitarian aid into Gaza, but the Israelis won't let me. What should I do?
Baffled from Belfast
Dear Baffled,
Load your cargo onto camels and head for Kyrgyzstan. They need it more there.
Dear Spengler,
I am prime minister of a Muslim country with 75 million citizens. Our empire once ruled the Muslim world and a great deal besides, and we very much would like to do so again. Recently I have
asserted our leadership of Muslim causes, for example, breaking Israel's blockade of Gaza. What should I do next?
Anxious in Ankara
Dear Anxious,
Your problem is that the sort of rhetoric that plays well with the local audience makes you sound like an evil clown in the United States. Whatever Israeli commandos did on the Mavi Marvara, it's not a "war crime" or an act of "state terrorism", as your government proclaims. You need to work on your image in order to avoid the impression that your country is crawling with violence-prone barbarians with a paranoid chip on their collective shoulder. The world still remembers the murder of perhaps three million Armenian, Greek and Assyrian Christians between 1914 and 1925, not to mention the killing of as many as 40,000 Kurds by Turkish security forces during the 1980s and 1990s.
It doesn't help when two groups of ethnic Turks, the Kyrgyz and Uzbeks, slaughter each other. When you expostulate about Gaza but say nothing about massacres in Kyrgyzstan, your credibility goes down the drain. It betrays a narrowly political motivation, rather than religious or even national concern. My advice: Announce that you will go to Kyrgyzstan to mediate between the warring ethnic groups. Stay there as long as possible.
Dear Spengler,
I'm the legitimate, internationally recognized representative of the Palestinian people and the prospective president of a future Palestinian state, but I get no respect. My security people got knee-capped and pushed off rooftops in Gaza when Hamas took over in 2007. Now even the Americans are talking about lifting the embargo on Gaza - not to mention the Europeans - which would make Hamas look like a legitimate representative of the Palestinians and leave me in the cold. What should I do?
Rattled in Ramallah
Dear Rattled,
You're suffering from a martyr gap with the competition. Hamas gets respect because its supporters are happy to commit suicide. As they keep saying, "You love life; we love death." The Turks sent a boat full of prospective martyrs eager to die at the hands of the Israelis, and managed to produce nine corpses. Hamas rocket attacks on Israel are designed to draw Israeli counter-attacks which produce corpses, civilian or not. The horror evoked by suicide hurts Western morale more than the fear of terrorism. Muslims perpetrated 1,944 suicide attacks between 2001 and 2008, not counting the efforts of Hamas, Hezbollah, and others to provoke Israel into counter-attacks that claim civilian lives as collateral damage. The West is founded on the notion of redemption, that is, the hope that in every human being there exists some inclination towards the good. Suicide is a real conversation-stopper. The West cringes in horror at thought that a combatant culture can field an arbitrarily large number of suicides.

All the evidence in the world that the prospective shahids on the Mavi Marmara intended to die won't cure the queasiness of Western stomachs. The fact of nine corpses on the deck overwhelms the sensibilities of Western liberals, no matter how they got there. Your problem is that you don't have enough corpses to lay out for the news media.
If you don't like how you're being treated, ask a few of your security people to kill themselves in front of your office every morning. If they won't do that, order them to kill some Hamas people in retaliation for all the murders of your people in Gaza. The first will get you sympathy, and the second will get you respect. If you can't persuade your people to do either, even after all the American training and weapons they've received during the past few years, you're out of options. Seek political asylum in another Muslim country - Kyrgyzstan, maybe.
Dear Spengler,
I'm the prime minister of a small Jewish country in the Middle East. No matter what we do, we get blamed for brutality. We tried to handle the Gaza blockade-runners like errant hippies, and boarded the Mavi Marmara with paintball guns. We have videos proving that our soldiers acted in self-defense and nobody seems to care. We've captured whole shiploads of Iranian missiles headed for Gaza. The French blew up a Greenpeace ship and nobody treated them this way. What can I do to get a fair hearing in the world?
Jittery in Jerusalem
Dear Jittery,
There isn't a lot you can do, except in the United States, where most people still believe in fairness, and a lot of people think that the Biblical reasons for your country's founding are valid. You might want to produce a brief television commercial showing some of the 7,000 Gazan patients treated each year at Israeli hospitals; the Israeli field hospital in Haiti manned by a 200-person relief team that was first on the scene after the earthquake; and other humanitarian aid provided by your country. And you might want to contrast this with footage of the effect of terrorist bombings and rocket attacks, as well as the video footage from the boarding of the Mavi Marmara. That won't make much of a different, because American support for Israel already is at a record high.
Your success, even your existence, is an affront to most Muslims. Polls show that only a fifth of Arabs would accept a Jewish state in the Middle East under any circumstances. That is because the return of the Jewish people to Zion, not to mention their military, commercial, scientific and cultural achievements, undermines Islamic triumphalism. Muslims ask themselves: How can the Koran be God's final revelation, if the perfidious Jews enjoy strength and riches, and their false prophets appear vindicated, while the faithful wallow in weakness and humiliation?
As for the Europeans, there isn't anything you can do to bring them around. They have abandoned the Christian faith that created Europe in the first place and have reconciled themselves to extinction. They abhor the idea of a Jewish state, because they abhor anything that calls to mind their own Judeo-Christian foundation. And they like to think of Jews as malefactors because it assuages their lingering guilt over the Holocaust. Worst of all, they wish to appease a growing Muslim population which over time will replace their own infertile people. The Europeans, in short, are a race of cowards for whom truth does not exist if it is inconvenient.
Your trading partners in Asia all have substantial Muslim minorities and have no reason to rile them up by supporting you. Most of them privately hope that you will succeed, but will not say so.
The Russians believe that America needs you as an ally in the Middle East. Unfortunately, the president of the United States seeks to reduce rather than aggrandize America's influence in the world; apart from his sentimental predilection for Islam, he is in principle against allies that strengthen America. Therefore the Russians will do everything in their power to wreck your relationship with Washington, the better to hurt America. If by chance you survive, they will be happy to buy your drones and sell you military aircraft.
My advice is to defend yourselves as you see fit. You only have to make sure to win. And remember: No good deed goes unpunished.
Spengler is channeled by David P Goldman, senior editor of First Things (

QUIT against Queers - Quit brainwashing the public!

Below is a report of the efforts of QUIT (Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism) to sabotage the opening of a gay film festival in San Francisco's Castro theater on June 17, and of a counter-demonstration by SF Pro-Israel. Why are these gay people against a gay film festival? You guessed it. It's endorsed by many groups, including the Israel Consulate. QUIT was supported by other groups: Southwest Asian and North African Bay Area Queers (SWANABAQ), and Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC),  

 QUIT has made no bones about their opposition to the one country that supports gay rights in the Middle East and their support for repressive regimes.  They call Israeli sponsorship of gay events "Pinkwashing," which is supposed to mean something. Here's how it came about

In April, the two Palestinian LGBT organizations, Aswat-Palestinian Gay Women and al Qaws (the Rainbow) for Sexual & Gender Diversity in Palestinian society issued a statement  asking international queers to oppose the Israeli government's new tactic of "pinkwashing." Pinkwashing means the Israeli government's use of its liberal policies on gay rights to deflect criticism of its denial of human rights to Palestinians.

In reality, what QUIT is about is not pinkwashing, but brainwashing.

As a gay advocate noted:

What makes QUIT oxymoronic is that their affinity for Palestine isn't reciprocated. There may be queers for Palestine, but Palestine certainly isn't for queers, either in the livable or empathetic sense. Like all Islamic polities, the Palestinian Authority systematically harasses gay people. Under the cloak of rooting out Israeli "collaborators," P.A. officials extort, imprison, and torture gays. But Palestinian oppression of homosexuality isn't merely a matter of state policy, it's one firmly rooted in Palestinian society, where hatred of gays surpasses even that of Jews. Last October, a gay Palestinian man with an Israeli lover petitioned Israel's high court of justice for asylum, claiming that his family threatened to kill him if he did not "reform." He's one of the few lucky Palestinians to be able to challenge his plight.

A video at the SF Pro-Israel Facebook group  shows people entering the theater where the LGBT film festival opened on June 17.

Decide for yourself if this is about "Pinkwashing" or brainwashing. Here's what the gay scene looks like in Israel:

And here's what the gay scene looks like in Muslim countries:

Ami Isseroff

Proud of Israel? Pride in Israel!

The LGBT International Film Festival opened Thursday June 17 at San Francisco's beautiful Castro theater. In addition to the expected huge lines, there was an unusual twist. There were protesters. No, it wasn't the Westboro Community Church, but rather QUIT (Queers doing something regarding Israel- does anyone remember what their acronym stands for anyway?). QUIT was upset that the film festival had the audacity to allow the Israeli consulate to endorse the festival, and formed a picket line claiming "There is no justification for queer institutions to ignore this request for solidarity." Yet not a single person honored their picket.

QUIT calls Israeli sponsorship of the festival "pinkwashing", claiming the Israeli government uses its liberal policies on gay rights to deflect external criticism. Why does Israel's progressive record on gay rights upset gay activists? Perhaps its because they keep wanting to frame Israel as a right wing theocracy, when it just refuses to fit into that mold.

Israel remains one of the most progressive countries in the world on LGBT issues and QUIT just doesn't want you to know this. But luckily, the intrepid activists from San Francisco Voice for Israel were there.

From the SF voice for Israel handout:
LGBT Rights in Israel:
* Gays have had full civil rights since 1992
* Gays have full rights to serve in the military
* Gays have partner adoption rights
* Gays have partner benefits for governmental employees
* Same gender marriages preformed abroad are recognized.

LGBT Pride in Israel
* The first transgender person to win the Eurovison contest was Israeli Dana International with her song "Diva".
* Openly gay singer Ivri Lidder is one of Israel's most popular entertainers.
* Openly gay movie producer Eytan Fox has created such popular movies Yossi and Jagger, Walk on Water and The Bubble
* Openly gay politicians have served in the Kenneset and on many local councils.

Just as the LGBT community wants equality, Israel strives for equality amongst the family of nations. Israel must be treated as an equal in the United nations. Israel must be treated fairly by the international news media, and must be recognized by its neighbors with normalized relations. With this in mind, San Francisco Voice for Israel will be marching again in the San Francisco pride parade on June 27, celebrating not just Israel's progressive record in LGBT rights, but acknowledging Israel's striving for equality in a very judgmental world

Mansur: Ignoring Muslim-on-Muslim Violence Undercuts U.S. Interests

For a multimedia view of this article (inc. a video intereview):

Mansur: Ignoring Muslim-on-Muslim Violence Undercuts U.S. Interests
IPT News
June 15, 2010

The major threats to Muslims around the world don't stem from U.S. or Israeli military actions or civil- liberties violations by Western governments in countering the jihadist threat. Instead, Salim Mansur, a professor of political science at the University of Western Ontario, identifies Muslim-on-Muslim violence as the cause of more death and destruction than anything else.

            In a recent interview with the Investigative Project on Terrorism, Mansur, a Muslim born in India, made a powerful case that the U.S. government and Western mainstream media ignore the real danger to Muslims around the world: terror, intimidation, repression and genocide committed by their fellow Muslims.
            An example came last Wednesday, when
40 people died at their wedding party in Kandahar that was attacked by a suicide bomber.
            Like his anti-Islamist counterparts in the United States, Mansur is waging a fierce intellectual struggle against established Islamist organizations claiming to speak for the country's Muslims. A prolific writer on subjects including Islamic history, interfaith relations and international politics – he has a column in the Toronto Sun and has written about Muslims in America. He has traveled widely in the Muslim world and has experienced such violence firsthand. As a teenager, he narrowly missed becoming a victim himself.
            Like millions of other Muslims in the late 1940s and early 1950s, Mansur's family moved from India to East Pakistan (now called Bangladesh). In March 1971, the Pakistani military invaded East Pakistan to suppress a popular independence movement there. By December of that year, hundreds of thousands of people were dead and almost one-fifth of the population (close to 10 million people including Mansur and his family) had become refugees. Mansur's family moved back to India and he emigrated to Canada in 1973.
"For the Jews, the issue of genocide is not an abstract discussion. Jews and Israelis bear the imprint of the Holocaust. It's an everyday, living issue in the sense of what you're contending with the forces in the world. So, for me, the question about Muslim-on-Muslim violence is not some remote historical discussion," Mansur said. "This crime has been an ongoing thing in Muslim history and Muslim politics. I am a personal witness to that."
            He points to a more recent example taking place right now in Darfur in Western Sudan. Janjaweed militias linked with Sudan's Islamist government are
responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Muslims. Yet major American Muslim organizations and Muslim governments around the world have been largely silent about the Darfur genocide, instead aiming most of their fire at targets like the FBI, the Transportation Security Administration and Israel.
            The U.S. government and the media help facilitate this skewing of priorities, Mansur said, one which benefits Islamists at the expense of ordinary Muslims.
            The Obama Administration is sending "a confused message," by
courting Islamist groups like the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), and the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) while shutting out non-Islamist Muslims.
            According to Mansur, these groups, frequently quoted in the media as representatives of American Muslims, are often linked with radical organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood. As a result, Americans haven't heard "clear, unambiguous, categorical" denunciations of suicide bombings from U.S. Muslim organizations attacks since September 11. These Muslim groups have also failed to speak out clearly against Sharia and the repression of women in the Islamic world.
            "Neither CAIR nor ISNA – nor any of the other [Islamist] organizations, as far as I know, have come out and said that we as Muslims in the West have a different perspective on the question of Sharia…and we're going to revise it," he said.
            A better idea, Mansur said, would be to "unload" Sharia:
            "What relevance have the views and opinions of the 8th-, 9th- and 10th-century men got to do with my life as a Muslim in the 21st century?"
            These organizations operate as "PR operatives for the Middle Eastern states with which we have problems," Mansur said.
            The biggest problems Muslims currently face are not with the United States or Israel, but "with their own governments," Mansur said. Groups like the Organization of the Islamic Conference(OIC) serve to deflect internal anger by manufacturing foreign policy grievances with non-Muslims on issues like Kashmir and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
            Mansur regards Islamist advocate Tariq Ramadan, grandson of Muslim Brotherhood founder
Hasan al-Banna, as a representative of the dark forces in the Muslim world.
            In April, Ramadan made a largely triumphal visit to the United States after the Obama Administration lifted a ban imposed in 2004 after he contributed money to an organization supporting Hamas. In Mansur's view, the celebratory tone of Ramadan's supporters during his visit serves to illustrate the naiveté of American elites' approach to Islamists. Mansur said he was "surprised, shocked and dismayed" when he learned Ramadan was invited to speak at Cooper Union, a New York City landmark where Abraham Lincoln denounced slavery in 1860.
            American organizations "were inviting Tariq Ramadan, grandson of Hasan al-Banna, associated in the deepest sense with the ideals that came together" in the 9/11 attack on the United States, Mansur said. Noting that Cooper Union is located just a few miles away from Ground Zero, Mansur likened the Ramadan invitation to inviting the grandson of Japanese strongman Hideki Tojo to speak at a location near Pearl Harbor.
            Cooper Union is a "sacred place" in American history "and you open it up to the people who want to subvert and destroy America; destroy freedom; destroy what America represents, " Mansur said. "It's a very serious problem."
            He added that Ramadan's visit is symptomatic of a larger problem. American elites, including the White House, academia, the New York Times and Washington Post and the major television networks, are "preoccupied" with the views of a narrow, segment of the Islamic world that does not represent the interests of most Muslims.
            Close to 80 percent of the world's Muslims are non-Arabs who are much more interested in bread-and- butter economic issues than in issues on the Islamist agenda like the Arab-Israeli conflict. "I think there is a profound distortion taking place, and we are getting a very narrow view of what is a Muslim perspective on history and politics," Mansur told the IPT.
            "Underlying Grievances" and Blaming the West
            Mansur was scathingly critical of comments by
President Obama suggesting a connection between poverty and the attempted Christmas Day bombing near Detroit, and by White House senior adviser John Brennan, who suggested that dealing with "underlying grievances" is critical to defeating Islamist terror.
            "I would say it's a totally disingenuous argument. The fact that it is being said from the highest pulpit in a free society, a political pulpit of the President of the United States, is very troubling. The Christmas bomber was not a man who was living on a dollar a day; he was the son of a millionaire. Faisal Shahzad, who tried to blow up Times Square, was not some poor peasant from Pakistan; he was the son of a two- or three-star general in the air force," Mansur said. "Most of…the people who did 9/11 came from Saudi Arabia, and they were not people working in the field barely scratching out a living."
            If poverty were the cause of terrorism, "why don't we hear about Indian Muslims strapping on bombs" and carrying out suicide attacks? Mansur asked.
            A wide variety of Islamists ranging from Tariq Ramadan and the Muslim Brotherhood to Al Qaeda are making the same false argument "to further their own causes," he said. They "are using the poverty argument to create a smokescreen, to pass the blame, to make the West in that sense responsible" for producing the conditions that cause terrorism, Mansur said.
            Mansur finds these arguments objectionable because they absolve Muslims of responsibility for their actions. They enable Muslims to blame the United States and the West instead of taking a careful look at the role of their co-religionists in making 9/11 possible.
            Muslim-on-Muslim Genocide
            Few Americans realize that the most victims of Islamism have been Muslims, Mansur argues. As an example, the Algerian civil war that began in 1992, killed more than 150,000 people in a fight pitting the nation's military regime against Islamist radicals. In Darfur, estimates range from 200,000 to 500,000 dead and millions more driven from their homes.
            In East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), an estimated 500,000 to 1 million people were
slaughtered in 1971 by the rampaging Pakistani Army. Mansur refers to it as "one of the great genocides that Muslims committed against Muslims."
            In this case, "the Pakistani military was killing their own citizens, and none of these people, by the way, have been brought to [judgment.]" The perpetrators of these crimes are "still running around in the West," Mansur said. "So you see the barbarity…the savagery, with which a Muslim state treats its own population."
            In Mansur's view, The East Pakistan genocide bears disturbing similarities to today's events in Darfur. "Half a million or more people have been killed in western Sudan, and there is not a peep about that," Mansur said. "There's a preoccupation, whenever the issue of violence or ethnic cleansing and war crimes…are talked about - the West is focused on the Arab-Israeli conflict."
            But groups like CAIR show little interest in discussing the mass murder of Muslims in Darfur, Pakistan or anywhere else. According to Mansur, when the topic is raised, Islamists typically assert that the figures have been "inflated" by "enemies of the Muslims" such as Hindus or Zionists.
            "In all of these cases, there is not a whit of taking responsibility, " Mansur said. Instead of using the Arab-Israeli conflict as a way to put pressure on Israel, the international community should take action to bring to justice "these criminals who were responsible for the genocide, whether it is in Darfur or Pakistan."
            "There is no statute of limitation…for crimes against humanity," he noted.
            Mansur said he sees some signs of positive change in Islamabad's response to the recent wave of terrorist attacks by the Taliban. The reality of suicide bombings in Pakistan's major cities is making it increasingly difficult for government officials and intellectuals to argue that terrorism results from India's machinations or "blowback" from the Arab-Israeli conflict.
            Pakistani elites are coming to the realization that their jihadist terror problem is homegrown. A growing number of voices are acknowledging "that we have to take responsibility, that [jihadism] is what we have nurtured and created," Mansur said. "I see that as a hopeful sign. I think that if Pakistan is going to be saved from its own tendency to self-destruction, that these voices have to be reinforced and given support, which means the building of a civil society and the downgrading of the military side."

A real Turkish peace flottila

Turkish ships among 70 vessels taking part in real peace flotilla organized by Turk
Shmulik Hadad
Published:  06.18.10, 18:28 / Israel News
Different kind of flotilla: About 70 yachts from various countries arrived Friday at the southern Israeli town of Ashkelon as part of a peace sail organized by a Turkish national.

The 2010 Emir sail originated in Istanbul and passed through northern Cyprus, Syria, and Lebanon before heading to Israel.

The sail's objective is to promote peace and regional cooperation in the field of maritime tourism. Ashkelon Mayor Benny Vaaknin welcomed the flotilla and said it constituted a response to previous terror sails.

"We are happy to see dozens of yachts arriving from across the world, including from Turkey," he said. "The city of Ashkelon welcomes the sailors and hopes that the message of peace in the Middle East will come out of Ashkelon."

The Emir sail has been held for the past 20 years and has made sure to make a stop in Israel even during sensitive periods. In light of the recent global condemnation leveled last Israel, the notion of a peace flotilla took on special meaning for participants this year.
The initiative is headed by Hasan Kacmaz, a Turkish national who refers to Ashkelon as his "second home," saying the city's municipal leaders are his "best friends."