Saturday, May 19, 2007

Iran: What is a good reason for a MESA Academic boycott?

Iran is a wonderful and progressive country. Pretty women are routinely arrested, raped and killed for the crime of being pretty. Homosexuals are hanged. Iran's president declared his intention of creating a "world without America and Zionism." He and others also claimed that the Holocaust never occurred, and held a conference to discuss this issue, featuring David Duke and other intellectual luminaries. Iran is also building a nice A-bomb. None of these actions were cause for alarm or criticism among members of the Middle East Studies Association. However, now the Middle East Studies Association (MESA)  may boycott Iran . The reason is that the Iranian government dared to arrest one of their own:

The Middle East Studies Association of North America, which has 2,700 members worldwide, has written to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad warning that the detention of scholars has triggered "grave concern" and that Esfandiari's imprisonment has sent a "chilling message to scholars throughout the world." Esfandiari is director of Middle East programs at the Smithsonian's Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.


The siege of the US embassy in 1979 was OK for MESA. Hanging homosexuals, raping women, Holocaust denial conferences, all of these are unimportant and no cause for concern, and neither are threats to destroy America. But the jailing of a MESA member triggers "grave concern." If the homosexuals who were hanged, and those who are "detained" now had been members of MESA, or if the women who were raped and killed had been MESA members, it would no doubt have been a different matter. Of course, no MESA members died in the Holocaust, so they are not worried about that either.

Ami Isseroff

Cross posted: Israel News  Middle East Analysis

Arabs. Zogby blame victims in Darfur

In Darfur, there is a cycle of violence. The government supported Janjaweed terrorists rape and murder, and the rape victims fight back. That is the Arab narrative it seems. James Zogby reports that Arabs feel that media are not reporting the conflict fairly, and that Arab media are not getting out their side of the story:
What the poll revealed was that strong majorities in the four Arab countries found fault with the Arab media's coverage of Darfur.  Additionally, more than 80 percent of the respondents in the four Arab countries surveyed expressed the view that the Arab media should devote more time to the issue.
When asked about who was responsible for the current crisis, Arab and Muslim respondents acknowledged the complexity of the conflict, with majorities in four of the six nations (Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Morocco and Turkey) holding both the government of Sudan and Sudanese rebel groups equally responsible.
Can't blame the Janjaweed, right? Those Darfur women must be "asking for it."
Ami Isseroff

Lebanese Troops Battle Militants

Lebanese Troops Battle Militants
BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) - Lebanese forces fought Islamic militants with alleged links to al-Qaida in the northern city of Tripoli and an adjacent Palestinian refugee camp early Sunday, causing casualties on both sides, security officials and witnesses said.

The fighting between troops surrounding the refugee camp of Nahr el-Bared and fighters from the Fatah Islam militant group began after a gunbattle raged in a neighborhood of Tripoli, Lebanon's second-largest city,

Witnesses said Fatah Islam gunmen seized Lebanese army positions at the entrance to the camp, capturing military vehicles. The army brought in reinforcements and fired on Fatah-Islam positions.
Thomas Braun, Lima, Peru

Friday, May 18, 2007

Not funny at all

Ray Hanania, a Palestinian American, tells it like it is. As usual. --Wendy in Washington

Not funny at all

Martyr Mouse again exposes Islamic fanaticism; Hamas must go
by Ray Hanania

In America, the term "Mickey Mouse" usually can mean one of two things: It usually refers to an innocent Walt Disney cartoon character that was always getting into some mischief and fun.

Or, it can sometimes be used in a political context, to describe something as being unprofessional, ineffective and childishly ridiculous.

This week, the Hamas terrorist organization has added one more definition to the term, "cartoon hatred" to poison the minds of children.

The Hamas-owned TV station in the Gaza Strip broadcast an episode of "Tomorrow's Pioneers" in which it featured a character that looked a lot like an overweight, disheveled and unkempt "Mickey Mouse" look-alike that went on to urge Palestinian children to "take up arms" against America and Israel.

"Martyr Mouse," as it has been dubbed in the Western media this week, was encouraging Palestinian children not to raise their arms in protest, but to actually go out and find guns and murder people.

Most people are used to the fundamentalist hatred that has become the symbol of Hamas, a terrorist organization that distorts Islamic teaching to push Palestinians, usually either young or just plain stupid, to strap on an explosives-filled vest and commit suicide.

Hamas targets are always the tough ones, like little children and old men and women who ride Israeli buses. That's their style. There is no bottom to their heinous lack of morality or principle.

This kind of hate-broadcast from Hamas has been going on a long time. And it's not funny at all.

Denounce Hamas

In fact, it is about time that Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims stop trying to justify this kind of hateful garbage and stand up and not only denounce this, but also denounce Hamas, Hamas hatred, and Hamas leaders.

Remainder of this wonderful article at:,7340,L-3399125,00.html

Tarek Heggy: If I were a Copt !!

by: Tarek Heggy
[This is the full version apparently]
·        If I were a Copt I would have split the skies of Egypt and the world with the sound of my voice decrying the oppressive climate in which Egypt's Copts are living today.
·        If I were a Copt I would have let the world know of the inequity that has plagued the lives of many Copts since 1952 and kept them from occupying the political and senior administrative posts they deserve.
·        If I were a Copt I would have cried out against the gross injustice of making me pay taxes allocated by the State to Al-Azhar which does not admit Copts to any of its faculties.
·        If I were a Copt I would have vented my anger at being forced to pay taxes that are used to build tens of mosques when the Egyptian state has not paid a penny in the construction of a single church since 1952, with the exception of a donation made by President Nasser forty years ago towards the costs of building St. Mark's Cathedral in Abbaseya.
·        If I were a Copt I would have raised my voice against the absence of a single Copt from many legislative councils in Egypt today.
·        If I were a Copt I would have written one article after another about the way the mass media ignore my concerns and religious feasts as though Egypt's Coptic population does not exist.
·        If I were a Copt I would have let the whole world know how Egypt's Coptic history is not given its rightful due in Egyptian educational curricula and how the study of the Arabic language in schools is no longer the study of literary texts, poetry, novels, plays and short stories but of Islamic scripture which rightfully belongs in classes teaching religion to Muslim students.
·        If I were a Copt I would have made the world sit up and take notice of the difficulties Copts have in obtaining a license to build a church [out of their own funds, not from the proceeds of the taxes to which they contribute].
·        If I were a Copt I would have brought to the attention of international public opinion the outrageous comments made by some Muslim writers about Copts, such as their contention that Copts should never assume public governance, that they should pay the gezya [a special tax imposed on non-Muslims in medieval times], and that they should not serve in the armed forces. I would have translated obscurantist writings like the nonsense published by Dr. Mohamed Emara with funding from Al-Azhar, whose budget is made up of the contributions of taxpayers, including Copts, who are then vilified in books published at the expense of the state.
·        If I were a Copt I would have led a campaign both inside the country and abroad demanding the removal of the box marked "Religion" from the Egyptian identity card. For why should any person dealing with me need to know what religion I belong to?
·        If I were a Copt I would have led a campaign against the Egyptian bureaucracy that has allowed the Personal Status Law for non-Muslims to fester in closed drawers for nearly a quarter of a century, leading Copts to refer to it jokingly as the Personal Disaster Law instead of the Personal Status Law (a play on the letter "h" in the Arabic word ahwal, or status which, depending on whether it is pronounced gutturally or glottally, gives these two very different meanings].
·        If I were a Copt I would have let the world know the Coptic issue in Egypt is but one manifestation of a mindset that has taken hold in this region of the world, and called upon humanity as a whole to force it to retreat from its dark and dangerous path.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

UC Intifada: Blowing up absurd

Reut Cohen has some great videos of the MSU anti-"Zionism" fest at UC Irvine
Day 1 Day 2 Day 3. Marxist Lenni Brenner joined forces with that great progressive, the Holocaust Denying Rabbi David Weiss, friend of David Duke. She tells us:
Rabbi Yonah Bookstein dressed up as a clown since the entire MSU week is ridiculous, filled with condoning of Hamas & Hezbollah. Terrorism, moreover, is often referred to as "freedom fighting" by speakers (and students) with the MSU.

Some MSU events during the week were titled "The UC Intifada" and "Hamas."
"UC Intifada" is a great name, isn't it? They are going to free occupied California. That makes sense. California belonged to Spain. Spain was once part of Dar al Islam. It was called "al Andalus." The Christian colonialist crusader imperialists took California from the Spanish, and these folks are going to liberate it.
In the 60s, students read, "Growing up absurd." Today, they should be reading, "Blowing up Absurd."
Ami Isseroff

FPM-Hezbollah: Divorce for Irreconcilable Differences

FPM-Hezbollah: Divorce for Irreconcilable Differences
By: Joseph Hitti
May 17/07

With the deadline looming for the Lebanese Parliament to elect a new President of the Republic of Lebanon this summer, there is an undeniable quest by many Lebanese for a "strong" President who would be unlike the riff-raff Presidents the country has had during the three decades of the war. Many of the latter were pure Syrian puppets (Elias Hrawi and Emile Lahoud); or the Lebanese equivalent of Bashar Assad, i.e. corrupt feudal weaklings who are reluctantly given the mantle of the family, and I mean by that Amin Gemayel; or "compromise" technocrat Presidents like Elias Sarkis, who are clean and mean well, but have no constituency to back them.

There is no doubt that the country needs a "strong" President, although different people may have a different definition of "Strong". From a purely sectarian standpoint, i.e. from the perspective of those in the Maronite Christian community who think of the President as "the community's" exclusive man, a "strong" President is someone who will re-assert some power into the hands of a defeated and battered community. For secular-leaning Lebanese who are tired and disgusted of the paralysis in which the sectarian allocation of power continues to plunge the country, "strong" means someone who can be the President of all Lebanon; someone who will reassert the power of the President to the detriment of the three-headed Taef Cerberus that now rules this mutant monster of a country ravaged by the cancers of sectarianism, feudalism, cronyism, the rampant power of the unelected religious elites; and finally, someone who will begin to combat corruption and take back this country from the hands of the religious, feudal and money elites and restores to its rightful owners, the ordinary people of Lebanon.

The problem is that many in the country, out of resignation and lack of faith in the possibility of change, will tell you that in Lebanon, only a "compromise" President can be elected because this is how it has always been. They forget that the country's strongest Presidents were non-compromise Presidents - Frangieh, Chamoun, Bechara Al-Khoury, Fouad Chehab - and it is under their terms that the country prospered between 1940s and the 1970s.

Unfortunately, the only candidate on the roster for this summer's election who is, in principle, a strong candidate is MP Michel Aoun, leader of the Free Patriotic Movement. All the others appear to be "compromise" types (Boutros Harb, Nassib Lahoud, Nayla Mouawad, Fares Souaid), technocrats who can do a lot for this country but lack political backbone (Riad Salameh, Chebli Mallat), or feudal old guard (Dory Chamoun, Suleiman Frangieh, Amin Gemayel (again?)), if not outright warlord criminals (Samir Geagea).

I said Michel Aoun is "unfortunately" the only strong candidate because, while espousing reformist and progressive ideas that rallied around him the majority of the Lebanese people, he has compromised his strength and alienated many of his own people with a cheap, convenient political alliance with the pro-Iranian Hezbollah organization that left him surrounded by political careerists whose follow a man rather the ideas he embodies. There is no other explanation to this alliance other than a vindictive and desperate move by Aoun to counter the power of the feudal-financial-warlord conglomerate of Hariri-Geagea-Jumblatt-Gemayel which is backed for pragmatic reasons by the West. And instead of maintaining the high ground, keeping an equal but objective distance from all his enemies, and appealing successfully to the ultimate wisdom of the people of Lebanon, Aoun plunged head-first into an alliance with Hezbollah that has all the accoutrements of a Faustian deal in which he thought he'd get a last chance at the presidency in exchange for allying himself with the ultimate loser that Hezbollah is very likely to be when all of this is said and done.

In the process, Aoun changed his discourse from a pure but sensible and reasoned (rather than atavistic nativist) Lebanese nationalism into a bitter anti-Western, anti-American, anti-anyone who just could not accept the anomalous Hezbollah status quo. And in so doing he ruined any future chance of a real and badly needed revolution in the Lebanese political and social landscape, because he disappointed the idealists, jaded the people at the cost that such a revolution would entail, and handed the ultimate enemies of Lebanon - the Hariri-Geagea-Jumblatt-Gemayel conglomerate an easy victory . In other words, Aoun was Lebanon's best chance for change, but the Lebanese people may have to wait for a couple of generations before that chance comes again.

Yet, there is still one last moment, one last window of opportunity before this summer's rendez-vous with destiny. Aoun can declare the failure of his alliance with Hezbollah and still have a chance at recovering lost ground and at reforming this dying country. Time for Aoun to tell the Lebanese people that his alliance with Hezbollah was a tactical maneuver that backfired, but not a strategic vision because there can be no alliance between radical medieval-vintage Moslem fundamentalists and secular democrats. In so doing, Aoun would pull the rug from under all his detractors, especially the Hariri-Geagea-Jumblatt-Gemayel multinational conglomerate, and say to the Lebanese people that he is still strong, but now he is on the right side of history. There is still time to recoup some glory by adopting the role of the arbiter and the referee, i.e. the statesman that many thought he was, not only within the Christian community, but also between the communities in Lebanon.

Iran is clearly on a collision course with the rest of the international community which is set to act very soon against Iran. The repercussions of a conflict with Iran will definitely reverberate in Lebanon, since Hezbollah will most likely try to "help" Iran by deflecting attention away from it, which it usually does in the south of Lebanon, like it did last summer. This time, the enemy is very likely UNIFIL, as the mounting frequency of incidents and complaints by Hezbollah and "its" Shiites in the south goes on building. UNIFIL, after all, represents the "West", the Great Satan now on the soil of Lebanon. Instead of cornering himself further into defending the indefensible, Aoun should jettison Hezbollah and Nasrallah before it is too late, recoup his standing among the Christians and the rest of the Lebanese communities, isolate Hezbollah and put pressure on it to relinquish the power it has hijacked from the Lebanese people and the State.

Aoun should declare as obsolete the Memorandum of Understanding he signed with Hezbollah since it has not stood the test of time. None of its provisions has been implemented:
- The Lebanese refugees in Israel are still in Israel
- Syria, Hezbollah's co-masters with Iran, has not surrendered the Shebaa Farms to Lebanese sovereignty, which would satisfy the most contingent provision of the Memorandum of Understanding: Hezbollah's supposed willingness to disarm.
- Hezbollah has not taken any measure on the ground that indicates an adherence in spirit, if not in the letter, to the provisions of the Understanding. To the contrary, Hezbollah has become even more emboldened, radicalized, belligerent, fighting tooth and nail against the legitimacy of the State's institutions and the International Tribunal, and in fact did start a war on behalf of the Lebanese people last summer that it will only repeat in one giant Samson-like suicide operation that Hezbollah in fact pioneered in the 1980s.

Over the last weeks and months, FPM leaders have increasingly claimed the mantle of "defenders" of the Christians, while diverging with Hezbollah over the International Tribunal: The FPM says it will support it, Hezbollah says it will be a declaration of war. The FPM says it wants to give the Christian community its due share of power by taking the decision away from the Hariri-Geagea-Jumblatt-Gemayel consortium of the old guard, only to turn around and give it to Hezbollah, the stale resistance guard. The reason is obvious: The Shiite street is secured by Hassan Nasrallah and Naim Qassem; no danger there of deconstructing the monolithic behavior of medievally-minded people into thinking for themselves. Ditto with the Sunni and Druze communities and their monolithic Jurassic era intra-communal structures. Only the Christian community shows some diversity - some call it division, I prefer diversity. So Aoun's FPM is worried it may have lost ground within the Christian community because of its untenable positions, and has therefore begun to lay claim to the mantle. It just may be too little too late, but it's worth a shot. The price, though, is a Aoun re-conversion.

In the end, the presidential elections are another one of the millions of chances that the Lebanese had to set their country back on the track of reason. What they decide to do is really up to them, people and leaders. They can yell and complain that everyone else is interfering, but Aoun has one very last chance to rally the Lebanese people behind him. He needs to make one correction. Even though it may be too late, the alternatives are even more disastrous.

Joseph Hitti
Boston, Massachusetts

Aid to Palestinian Authority tripled in '06, despite boycott

This article contains a few paradoxes that those living with Palestinian finances must live with. First, aid can triple and poverty can increase. Second, there is little transparency so it's hard to tell where the money does go. One can guess, but aid donors might want more than guesswork. Finally, it's hard to ask Israel to hand over tax monies to a government that is sworn to Israel's destruction. On the other hand, these are Palestinian tax monies and there should be a mechanism to funnel the funds to appropriate bodies (e.g. health care, schools) without funding terrorism.

Aid to PA nearly tripled in '06, despite international boycott
By Amira Hass, Haaretz Correspondent

Donations to the Palestinian Authority almost tripled last year as a result of the international boycott of the Hamas government, according to a report published this month by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Aid in 2006 totaled $900 million, up from $349 million a year earlier.

The boycott meant that most countries refused to channel money directly to the PA, and Israel refused to transfer the tax revenues it collects on the PA's behalf.

However, Arab and Western nations continued and even increased their donations, channeling them through either a "Hamas bypass" mechanism known as the Temporary International Mechanism (TIM), or the office of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. This money, which compensated entirely for the halt in Israeli tax transfers, partially financed the salaries of PA employees and was used to make welfare payments to the needy.

Normally, Israeli tax transfers cover about two-thirds of the Palestinian Authority's budget. Had economic activity in 2006 continued at the same level as the year before, they would have reached an estimated $800 million last year. But in fact, the PA's gross domestic product fell by 8 to 10 percent in 2006.

According to the report, the biggest contributor to the PA last year was the Arab League, which gave $448 million.

The European Union gave $219 million and the World Bank gave $42 million. In addition, the government obtained an estimated $180 million by smuggling in cash from abroad.

The report noted that, in part because less money was funneled directly to the PA, the trend toward greater financial transparency was reversed in 2006, even though the PA's donors have pushed for transparency for years.

For instance, instead of monthly reports on the utilization of the PA's budget, reports were published only semiannually, violating the PA's budget law.

Abbas' office issued no comprehensive data on its expenditures or receipts of money from abroad, while the Palestinian Investment Fund did not fully report its dealings with either the banks or Abbas' office.
Remainder of the article is online at:

Leadership in Crisis: The Winograd report

An expert management consultant gave his views on the Winograd report. Dr Sydney Engelberg considers that it is a problem in crisis management. Notes from the lecture include:
Leadership in a crisis situation: competency of the leadership is paramount in dealing with a crisis. It must firstly build an environment of trust in the population, to allay fear, anxiety and uncertainty.
It needs the creation of an expanded mindset when dealing with a crisis.
One must be able to identify not only the obvious, but also the obscure vulnerabilities which caused the problem in the first place. One must look ahead and identify obscure threats before they eventuate.

But even the obvious vulnerabilities were not identified. For example, the bomb shelters were not necessarily well maintained; they were inadequate for the population who were sick, infirm or immobile; not sufficient thought was given to those who would need special care and the government should not have relied on the good graces of an individual to create a tent city in the South for the refugees from the North. They should have provided it immediately.

Wise decision making is necessary. An embarrassing situation evolved with government paralysis ! Taking courageous actions and risk taking are all part of efficient crisis management, but these were not forthcoming.
The above is the same as saying the government did not function, which everyone in Israel could see. For that, I am not sure I needed an expert opinion. There is something to the "expanded mindset" comment though. Olmert always impressed me as a very pedestrian type. If there is a routine job to do, and it is clear what must be done, he will do it competently. If he has to chart his own vision or his own course, it is doubtful he would be able to do it. On the other hand, Olmert certainly did some risk taking, getting into a war for which he was unprepared. Evisdently, he did not have the imagination and understanding to realize that he was taking any risks, however.  
The notes continue:
The Northern border has been quiet for a longer period than for the last 40 years;
A man fell off the top of the Empire State Building. As he was falling, someone asked him, from the 50th story, how it was going. He said, "So far so good." History is about process and direction. It is not so relevant if the northern border is quiet.
The notes of our blogger conclude:
The army is already well on the way to rectifying the errors of the Lebanese war; 
We don't know that that is true until it is tested. We have heard about these corrections in the past, after every war.
The biggest problem I have with the whole approach is that the failures of the Lebanon war indicate a system failure, not something correctable by better management and tinkering with personnel: government and society failed almost all along the line, except for bravery and resourcefulness of individuals. That is the real lesson of the Winograd report, that is contained in the final paragraph, and which everyone wants to avoid. The ministers and officers bear formal responsibility, but the failures were due to decisions of previous governments as well as their own, and to actions of media, of local officials and of citizens. For example, there should not have been a crying, hysterical lady evacuating the north, but these things happen. Certainly she should not have been shown on television even once, but she was shown repeatedly! The defense budget was cut in previous administrations. But the budget was cut because citizens wanted less taxes. Everyone knew the budget was being cut and understood the risks and said nothing. Everyone knew that Amir Peretz was not qualified to be defense minister, but none of us did much about it. And now, everyone understands that Ehud Olmert and Amir Peretz must resign, but few are doing much to make it happen.
Ami Isseroff 
Cross-posted:   Israel News  Middle East Analysis

Bernard Lews: Was Osama Right? (about Western weakness)

Was Osama Right?
Islamists always believed the U.S. was weak. Recent political trends won't change their view.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT
During the Cold War, two things came to be known and generally recognized in the Middle East concerning the two rival superpowers. If you did anything to annoy the Russians, punishment would be swift and dire. If you said or did anything against the Americans, not only would there be no punishment; there might even be some possibility of reward, as the usual anxious procession of diplomats and politicians, journalists and scholars and miscellaneous others came with their usual pleading inquiries: "What have we done to offend you? What can we do to put it right?"
A few examples may suffice. During the troubles in Lebanon in the 1970s and '80s, there were many attacks on American installations and individuals--notably the attack on the Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983, followed by a prompt withdrawal, and a whole series of kidnappings of Americans, both official and private, as well as of Europeans. There was only one attack on Soviet citizens, when one diplomat was killed and several others kidnapped. The Soviet response through their local agents was swift, and directed against the family of the leader of the kidnappers. The kidnapped Russians were promptly released, and after that there were no attacks on Soviet citizens or installations throughout the period of the Lebanese troubles.
These different responses evoked different treatment. While American policies, institutions and individuals were subject to unremitting criticism and sometimes deadly attack, the Soviets were immune. Their retention of the vast, largely Muslim colonial empire accumulated by the czars in Asia passed unnoticed, as did their propaganda and sometimes action against Muslim beliefs and institutions.
Most remarkable of all was the response of the Arab and other Muslim countries to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979. Washington's handling of the Tehran hostage crisis assured the Soviets that they had nothing to fear from the U.S. They already knew that they need not worry about the Arab and other Muslim governments. The Soviets already ruled--or misruled--half a dozen Muslim countries in Asia, without arousing any opposition or criticism. Initially, their decision and action to invade and conquer Afghanistan and install a puppet regime in Kabul went almost unresisted. After weeks of debate, the U.N. General Assembly finally was persuaded to pass a resolution "strongly deploring the recent armed intervention in Afghanistan." The words "condemn" and "aggression" were not used, and the source of the "intervention" was not named. Even this anodyne resolution was too much for some of the Arab states. South Yemen voted no; Algeria and Syria abstained; Libya was absent; the nonvoting PLO observer to the Assembly even made a speech defending the Soviets.
One might have expected that the recently established Organization of the Islamic Conference would take a tougher line. It did not. After a month of negotiation and manipulation, the organization finally held a meeting in Pakistan to discuss the Afghan question. Two of the Arab states, South Yemen and Syria, boycotted the meeting. The representative of the PLO, a full member of this organization, was present, but abstained from voting on a resolution critical of the Soviet action; the Libyan delegate went further, and used this occasion to denounce the U.S.
The Muslim willingness to submit to Soviet authority, though widespread, was not unanimous. The Afghan people, who had successfully defied the British Empire in its prime, found a way to resist the Soviet invaders. An organization known as the Taliban (literally, "the students") began to organize resistance and even guerilla warfare against the Soviet occupiers and their puppets. For this, they were able to attract some support from the Muslim world--some grants of money, and growing numbers of volunteers to fight in the Holy War against the infidel conqueror. Notable among these was a group led by a Saudi of Yemeni origin called Osama bin Laden.
To accomplish their purpose, they did not disdain to turn to the U.S. for help, which they got. In the Muslim perception there has been, since the time of the Prophet, an ongoing struggle between the two world religions, Christendom and Islam, for the privilege and opportunity to bring salvation to the rest of humankind, removing whatever obstacles there might be in their path. For a long time, the main enemy was seen, with some plausibility, as being the West, and some Muslims were, naturally enough, willing to accept what help they could get against that enemy. This explains the widespread support in the Arab countries and in some other places first for the Third Reich and, after its collapse, for the Soviet Union. These were the main enemies of the West, and therefore natural allies.
Now the situation had changed. The more immediate, more dangerous enemy was the Soviet Union, already ruling a number of Muslim countries, and daily increasing its influence and presence in others. It was therefore natural to seek and accept American help. As Osama bin Laden explained, in this final phase of the millennial struggle, the world of the unbelievers was divided between two superpowers. The first task was to deal with the more deadly and more dangerous of the two, the Soviet Union. After that, dealing with the pampered and degenerate Americans would be easy.
We in the Western world see the defeat and collapse of the Soviet Union as a Western, more specifically an American, victory in the Cold War. For Osama bin Laden and his followers, it was a Muslim victory in a jihad, and, given the circumstances, this perception does not lack plausibility.

From the writings and the speeches of Osama bin Laden and his colleagues, it is clear that they expected this second task, dealing with America, would be comparatively simple and easy. This perception was certainly encouraged and so it seemed, confirmed by the American response to a whole series of attacks--on the World Trade Center in New York and on U.S. troops in Mogadishu in 1993, on the U.S. military office in Riyadh in 1995, on the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, on the USS Cole in Yemen in 2000--all of which evoked only angry words, sometimes accompanied by the dispatch of expensive missiles to remote and uninhabited places.
Stage One of the jihad was to drive the infidels from the lands of Islam; Stage Two--to bring the war into the enemy camp, and the attacks of 9/11 were clearly intended to be the opening salvo of this stage. The response to 9/11, so completely out of accord with previous American practice, came as a shock, and it is noteworthy that there has been no successful attack on American soil since then. The U.S. actions in Afghanistan and in Iraq indicated that there had been a major change in the U.S., and that some revision of their assessment, and of the policies based on that assessment, was necessary.
More recent developments, and notably the public discourse inside the U.S., are persuading increasing numbers of Islamist radicals that their first assessment was correct after all, and that they need only to press a little harder to achieve final victory. It is not yet clear whether they are right or wrong in this view. If they are right, the consequences--both for Islam and for America--will be deep, wide and lasting.
Mr. Lewis, professor emeritus at Princeton, is the author, most recently, of "From Babel to Dragomans: Interpreting the Middle East" (Oxford University Press, 2004).

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Torture in the Middle East - Doesn't it get you angry?

This press release about arrests and torture -- state terrorism --  alerts us once again to the  terrible situation in the Middle East.  The article states:
....the 80 young men arrested are under severe torture and pressure by ... authorities but have not been officially charged yet.
Where is the committee against torture? How come they are not protesting? Where are the UN condemnations? This is an open and shut case. Eighty young heros of the resistance are being tortured by the colonialist forces of occupation and racist Zionism. Nonetheless,  the rights groups are silent. HRW says nothing. Amnesty says nothing. Hey folks, TORTURE - aren't you against TORTURE? Silence! They must've been bought out by the Zionists in the Bush adminstration.
Oh, wait a minute. This is not happening in Israel. It is happening in Iran! The people are not suspected "militants:"
Right now, they are held on the account of participation in a party where alcohol beverages were found, music was playing and young people were dancing. Further, they found 16 young men who were wearing customs[probably "costumes" -a.i.]
That explains it. It is OK to torture people if they are wearing costumes and dancing. And oh yes, the report is from the Iran Queer Organization. That really explains everything. Who cares about rights of homosexuals?  Certainly not apologists for the Iranian regime. Torture away, mullahs!
Ami Isseroff

Urgent Press Release about the arrest of 80 young men in Esfahan - Iran

 May 14, 2007

According to new information from Iran , the 80 young men arrested are under severe torture and pressure by Iranian authorities but have not been officially charged yet. Right now, they are held on the account of participation in a party where alcohol beverages were found, music was playing and young people were dancing. Further, they found 16 young men who were wearing customs . It is worth to note that in Iran it is very common for young people to participate in costume parties where individuals wear different outfits. 

Obviously this crackdown is yet another systematic violation of human rights, along with brutal suppression of women's and labor's movements in Iran and must be strongly protested by all human rights organizations as yet another violation of people's private rights and liberties. This means that for now, what is urgently needed is to strongly object to this gross violation of human rights and the invasion of young people's lives and dignity. 
Since these young men are still waiting to be officially charged, it is imperative that interested organizations, for now, avoid naming these arrests as gay crackdown until further notification. We strongly urge you to be vigilant and alert for the next few days and we are immensely grateful for your concerned follow up until the fate of these individuals is determined. In the next few days we will do everything in our power to relay information to all of you especially if and when these young men are officially charged and sentenced by Iran 's judicial authorities. 
Further information will be posted on the IRQO website.

IRanian Queer Organization – IRQO
Formerly Persian Gay & Lesbian Organization – PGLO

Fwd: Help in the search for Madeleine: please send to everyone you know - especially in Europe

I don't normally circulate round robin e-mails or letters, but I think it's right to make an exception for this one. 


Begin forwarded message:

From: "Joy Wolfe" <>
Date: 15 May 2007 07:52:47 BDT
To: "Joy Wolfe" <>
Subject: Help in the search for Madeleine: please send to everyone you know - especially in Europe

Please do what you can to send this round the world, particularly in Europe

It would be very much appreciated if MEPs could try to get it circulated in as many countries as possible   Please forward it to you colleagues


> This message was started this morning by Phil McCann, Madeleine's uncle.

PLEASE keep it moving.    Thanks

Joy Wolfe



As you are aware my niece is still missing and I am asking everyone I

know to send this as a chain letter i.e. you send it to everyone you know and ask them to do the same, as the story is only being covered in

Britain, Eire and Portugal. We don't believe that she is in Portugal

anymore and need to get her picture and the story across Europe as  quickly as possible. Suggestions are welcome.

Phil McCann


Liberal anti-Zionism - Nakba day thoughts

 A thought on "Nakba Day"

"Liberal" Anti-"Zionism" - 'Palestine is our land, The Jews are our dogs'

This report of the Stephen Roth institute shows that 2006 was marked by a rise in so-called "anti-Zionist" activity, resulting in about 600 violent incidents and several major attacks. The Lebanon war provided the excuse for this "anti-Zionist" activity, which was greatest apparently in the UK and France.

The content of this "anti-Zionist" activity and the targets of attacks shed light on the question of whether or not "criticism of Israel" might be anti-Semitism, and whether such criticism is a good cause to be endorsed by liberals everywhere.

 In the USA:

One striking example was the revival of an anti-Jewish slogan from the Middle East, chanted in Arabic, "Filastin hi arduna wa al- yahud kilabuna!" ("Palestine is our land and the Jews are our dogs!") − documented at rallies in San Francisco, Chicago and New York City, among others. These demonstrations were organized by the IAC, ANSWER Coalition, the ADC, and CAIR. Another common catchphrase at anti-Israel and anti-war rallies in recent years (also in Arabic) has been: "Khaybar, Khaybar, oh Jews, the army of Muhammad will return!" evoking the Qur'an's account of a battle between the Islamic Prophet and a Jewish tribe, which resulted in the subjugation of the Jews of Arabia. Notably, some of the more radical chants were in Arabic.

The liberal and progressive slogan "Palestine is our land and the Jews are our dogs!" was first chanted in 1920 by crowds organized by the Grand Mufti Hajj Amin Al Husseini, a follower of Adolf Hitler. They were attacking Jews in order to protest the occupation of their land.

More about liberal anti-Zionism here.

Cross posted:    Latest Israel News   Middle East Analysis

Ami Isseroff

Sunday, May 13, 2007

What is Al-Qaeda really trying to do?

Here is an explanation of what Al-Qaeda thinks it is doing supposedly. It is hitting economic targets according to this article, and they bring "proof" in the form of Al-Qaeda manifestos.  Well if Al-Qaeda says something is true, then it must be true, right? Al Qaeda tells us:

If the enemy has used his economy to rule the world and hire collaborators, then we need to strike this economy with harsh attacks to bring it down on the heads of its owners. If the enemy has built his economy on the basis of open markets and free trade by getting the monies of investors, then we have to prove to these investors that the enemy's land is not safe for them, that his economy is not capable of guarding their monies, so they would abandon him to suffer alone the fall of his economy.

This is about Jihad against the Crusader enemy, so what about the September 11th operation? Hijacking planes is a well known tactic, which was used by various fighters and freedom fighters, so what's new about this operation? People used to hijack planes and consider them a target, but those willing to put in the extra effort turned these planes into a method only, a projectile shot in the heart of the enemy ...The enemy used to protect his external interests and spend enormous sums for this protection, so he was surprised when he was struck inside his borders. The enemy was used to protecting a thousand interests outside his county, now he has to protect a million interests inside his country that need continuing protection!! The attack on the Trade Center forced America since that day to spend billions to protect the huge economic infrastructure that runs the American economy. Using planes in this attack has forced America to spend billions to protect the planes and airports in all possible ways.

But in fact, the bombings in Madrid were aimed at getting the Spanish to withdraw from Iraq (and succeeded) and almost anything, including the London underground, can be called "economic." Moreover, in each case the groups involved seemed to be independent of Al-Qaeda proper. And what about Iraq? Is al-Qaeda hitting economic targets there?
Ami Isseroff

Iranian scientist not arrested

Rumors are spreading on the Web concerning the supposed arrest of Mahmood Sariolghalam. The story appeared at Noandish. Though there does appear to be a crackdown and several people have been arrested, Dr. Sariolghalam writes that he is well and is not one of those arrested. Not yet anyhow. Dr  Sariolghalam is a colleague of Hossein Mousavian, a former nuclear negotiator, who was arrested
Ami Isseroff