Saturday, August 4, 2007

Repeating a historic failure

By Shlomo Avineri
July 27, 2007
Many people believe that Palestinian extremism is responsible for the fact that the Palestinians do not have a state: because they rejected the United Nations partition plan of 1947, because they rejected the proposals of prime minister Ehud Barak and U.S. president Bill Clinton at Camp David in 2000, and because they then reverted once again to terrorism against civilians. All this is true, but a review of history shows a more profound structural failing, which has accompanied the Palestinian movement over the years: the inability to establish institutions that are based on a national consensus and that are able to serve as the foundation for a state.
Thomas Braun, Lima, Peru

Friday, August 3, 2007

Saudis gloat over oil prices

The Saudi Arab News writes, "It should be a matter for quiet satisfaction here in the Kingdom that the world oil price on Wednesday hit a new record of $78.77 a barrel. Though it fell back later, it is now clear that the days of cheap oil are over. Indeed, some analysts are predicting the $100 barrel within the next five years."
Not everyone is quite as joyful of course.
In the longer view, the faster the price of oil rises, the faster it will encourage development of a practical alternative.
Ami Isseroff

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Will Israel survive?

Will Israel Survive?  
By Jamie Glazov | 7/31/2007

Frontpage Interview's guest today is Mitchell Bard, the Executive Director of the non-profit American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise (AICE) and one of the leading authorities on U.S.-Middle East policy. Dr. Bard is also the director of the Jewish Virtual Library. Bard holds a Ph.D. in political science from UCLA and has written and edited 18 books, including Myths and Facts: A Guide to the Arab-Israeli Conflict, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Middle East Conflict and 1001 Facts Everyone Should Know About Israel.  He is the author of the new book, Will Israel Survive?


Complete interview:


Thomas Braun, Lima, Peru

The Mighty Heart controversy

For me it started with the article by Debbie Schlussel in the FrontPage magazine. Let's not mince the words - the article is a hatchet job, and a very thorough one to boot. Debbie has definitely gone overboard, trying to judge the movie as if it were financed by the Israeli Tourism ministry and should have been focused solely on the Jewish motives.

Read the rest of the post here.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Jewish Psychosis: Authentic Middle East flavor in Arab world press

I am reluctant to write this article. On the one hand, I know that rightist extremists are going to exploit the sad facts for their own ends. On the other hand, the anti-"Zionists" will quote what I write here (out of context as usual) as proof of "Jewish Zionist Islamophobia." 
However, the cup runneth over with bile. I am tired of being inundated with the flood of intellectual effluvia that spews forth from the sewers of official Arab world publications. These concoctions often have what can be politely described as "authentic Middle Eastern flavor." Middle Eastern food is famously redolent of savory flavors and exquisite odors: mint and sesame, hel and kusbarah, garlic and onion, the smoke of open fires, and occasionally, though less discussed in polite company, camel and donkey excrement and similar odors. If you are lucky, you have a wonderful culinary experience from your Middle Eastern repast. If you are not so lucky, you may be hospitalized. The kind of cooking you are apt to find in Middle Eastern media is likely to make you very ill indeed.
The flavor and aroma of Middle Eastern  journalism, too often tends in the direction of the camel dung, bad sanitation, rotten eggs and spoiled meat of racism and xenophobia, rather than the kusbarah and hel and fresh ground Turkish coffee of original and imaginative thought.
The American and other governments take care that the public who cannot read Arabic generally do not see and taste some of the more extravagant "cuisine" prepared in the kitchens of Middle East media: Jews capturing Christian children to make matzoth from their blood, a TV series about the workings of the Elders of Zion and their Protocols, sermons about Jewish sons of dogs and Christian sons of pigs, promises to fly the flag of Islam over London, and bring about a world without America.
For reasons related to oil greed and the stupidity of diplomacy, the United States subsidizes several Middle East regimes very heavily. The US government, and the US Middle East academic establishment, would be sorely distressed if Americans were too aware of the sort of regimes and societies that their tax dollars subsidize.
As a result of its peace treaty with Israel, Egypt enjoys an annual aid grant of about $2 billion. Despite horrendous poverty, most of this money is spent on buying armaments in the United States. Egypt is not a very democratic society. You can be put in jail for hinting that elections are fraudulent, or for criticizing the government too strongly. The press is tightly controlled as well. Nothing is published that the government would not want to be published.
Arab countries have, in addition to their Arab language media, a small English language press that is in large part for external consumption. Journals like Arab News, Al Ahram and Jordan Times put "respectable" faces on the regimes of their countries. They allow a bit more criticism of the government, and somewhat less racism and vitriolic American diatribes. Additionally, there are journals like As-Sharq Alawsat run from London, that reflect more Westernized points of view.
However, even in the English language journals, we can sample a great deal of the Middle Eastern journalistic cuisine. We can find manufactured events, such as the bombing of Baghdad with nuclear weapons, and Israel injecting Palestinian children with AIDS, and opinions based on those tales of the 1001 Arabian Nights.
Egypt's Al Ahram is essentially a government - controlled newspaper. The editor serves at the will of the government. According to the terms of the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty, Egyptian media and government are supposedly enjoined from incitement against Israel.
Here is a taste of the authentic Middle East that appeared recently in Al Ahram English weekly. It is by no means atypical of the fare they serve up each week. You can find this treat, at  Behold, a work of Islamic art! A veritable souvenir of the desert! A tome worthy of the tomb of a Pharaoh and of the utterances of the Islamic sages!
The introduction reads:
How long will Jewish psychosis be tolerated, even vaunted, and its brutal consequences ignored, asks Issa Khalaf*
It gets better from there. If you like anti-"Zionism" as expressed in Mein Kampf, you will love Issa Khalaf. This is what psychiatric expert Khalaf has to say about Israel and the Jewish question:
The Zionist programme to overtake the land and empty it of its indigenous people is so relentless and uncompromising, so openly implemented, so strikingly lacking in decency and humanity, that I'm trumped for categories to explain it. No question, history is replete with examples of inhumanity, of fantastical, violent ideological projects imposed by the state or by one group over another, of ruthless dislocation and expulsions....
I'm inclined to think that the worst is brought out in the American imperial impulse by Zionist organisations... Apparently, nothing short of complete surrender will satiate Jewish Israelis and the organised American Jewish community, who've managed to make US Middle East policy an extension of themselves and render synonymous in the American mind and institutions US and Israeli needs and interests -- and even then the Palestinians or Arabs will not appease them...
The Holocaust, always replayed and pushed on Western publics, is corrupted and appropriated by narrow ethnic imperatives. A persecuted people persecuted no more seem to have lost their senses, so fossilised are they in their Shoah, the culminating event of Jewish history. Compassion, remorse, guilt for the Palestinians eludes them...
How long is one to extend sympathy to Jewish psychosis in the face of this obvious self-righteous folly?...There is perhaps nothing more noxious than Jewish assumption of morality in the context of obscene inhumanity towards victimised Palestinians. No, I don't believe Zionist Jews who unqualifiedly support Israel can speak with authority on this issue, despite the illusion of a superior Jewish morality.
But these may not be the only categories to comprehending Zionism's unmitigated inhumanity to Palestinians and other Arabs... The mangled psychological, theological, cultural facets of the encounter between European colonials and indigenous peoples are known.
There is also that Jewish political tribalism, one whose roots extend deep into the past, whose fundamentalist holy men justify the taking of Arab life, the killing of Arab children, in juxtaposition to the superior sanctity of Jewish life and Jewish children....
As I've previously argued in this newspaper, in the face of such power and influence -- and as truly tenuous, illusory and counterproductive this power may ultimately be -- rationality is all but lost.
Dr Khalaf must've extended his sympathy to Jewish psychosis for a long time, we are sure. Of course, Dr. Khalaf never heard that Palestinian Arabs are treated for free in Israeli hospitals, or that Israeli soldiers who harm innocent Palestinian Arabs face military courts. He does not know that there is an Israeli peace movement, stabbed in the back and the heart each day by Islamist terrorists and racist hate mongers like Dr. Khalaf. When was the last time a Fateh or Hamas "soldier" was tried for harming innocent Jewish civilians?
Dr Khalaf, having expressed his opinion of the Jewish people in a manner reminiscent of Hinkel in "The Great Dictator,"  next turns to the gentle Arabs of Palestine:
The Palestinians are strikingly unburdened by the pathologies of their oppressors, not least of all because they do not reciprocate their occupier's widespread racism...unlike their tormentors, they've not lost their humanity and essential decency, their acceptance of their enemy's humanity, their cultural generosity of spirit and life, their respect for the sacredness of all life, their sanity. I can't imagine that Palestinian soldiers would cruelly and coolly remain unmoved -- devoid of an abiding sense of rescue -- by a Jewish mother dying in her house as her children watched in fear and horror.[a reference to an imaginary "Jewish-Zionist" "atrocity" of the type regularly offered up by the Arab press.]
Ah, the angelic Palestinians! Consider the statement "The Palestinians are strikingly unburdened by the pathologies of their oppressors." Is it not a culinary delight of intellectual travesty?  Khalaf has a poor imagination. He can't imagine Palestinian Arabs blowing up dozens of people in discotheques. He cannot imagine the Hamas Mickey Mouse and the Hamas Bee that teach children to blow themselves up for Palestine. He cannot imagine the 16 year old  sent across a checkpoint with a suicide bomb.  He cannot even imagine the Hamas literally butchering a Fateh man and sending the "steaks" to his family, or throwing people from rooftops after shooting them in the knees. Khalaf cannot imagine the Palestinians who killed 14 year old Kobi Mandel by breaking his head with rocks. Palestinians, like Dr. Khalaf, are all angelic. Khalaf cannot hear the Imams calling "Kill the Jews wherever you find them" either. Not all Palestinians are like that, but many of them are. In a recent poll, over 70% of Palestinian Arabs living in the Palestinian territories supported suicide bombings in "some cases" to "defend Islam" - the highest percentage of any Muslim nation. Palestinians living in Jordan don't support suicide bombing so fervently. They were not born that way. They were educated to it by people like Dr. Khalaf. Genocide of the Jews is the official policy of the Hamas, who are in charge of Gaza these days.  
Dr. Khalaf's culinary masterpieces are not the product of Middle Eastern culture alone. Khalaf has a PhD in political science and Middle East studies from Oxford University.
Khalaf is not alone at Al Ahram, this week or any week. In his three part series, Hassan Nafaa serves up his version of Zionism to his readers: "Zionist strategy for dividing the Arab East." The plat du jour is described as follows:
In his third article on Zionist thought, Hassan Nafaa* reveals how Israel has always wanted the East and northern Arab states to collapse.
You can read the rest at
We should not confine ourselves to Al Ahram. Saudi Arabia is about to be the recipient of a shower of sophisticated American weaponry. Satellite guided bombs that may one day be returned to Israel and other gadgets are included. Saudi Arabia has benefited from an estimated $10 billion annual U.S. expenditure on deployment of the Seventh fleet for many many years. In return, the oil rich country is happy to export terrorism to Iraq and Islamism to anywhere in the Middle East. Americans get a good deal. The Saudi government publishes a show piece English language newspaper available on the Web, Arab News. Here are some samples of Saudi journalistic cooking, even more legendary than the Egyptian dishes. A headline reads: "Protocols of the Elders of Neocons" by Hussein Shobokshi. In this classic, now a tiny bit dated, Shobokshi wrote:
In this weekly telephone report Paul Wolfowitz expressed his anxiety to Sharon, the Israeli Prime Minister about the situation in the Middle East. "How are you doing?" asked Wolfowitz. "OK,OK," answered Sharon, "but you must go to Syria." Wolfowitz pondered, "this will be tougher to get the president's okay on." Sharon could not help but scream, "He does not know Damascus from
Des Moines, Iowa. Move it Paul. You can always tell him that this man of peace thinks it's kosher," concluded Sharon with a hysterical laugh.
Of course, Sharon never encouraged the US to attack Iraq or Syria. How ironic it would be if the Saudi Arabian regime is eventually toppled by Syrian and Iranian subversion! Here is another gem from one Tanya Hsu, who is based in Riyadh:
We have suffered such that we have the right to make the rest of the world pay (even though organized Zionism officially declared war on Germany in 1933, long before Hitler's Final Solution). Because we are victims...
We know that Zionism is an atheist Marxist creation using Judaism as its weapon; that we were founded upon terrorism and our leaders became Israel's prime ministers and Nobel Peace Prize winners; that less than 10 percent of Jews worldwide supported the Zionist cause for decades until World War II. We know that the crimes committed by Hitler equally affected Communists, gypsies, the handicapped, and political prisoners. That does not matter -- we are special. The rest of the world will not touch us because they are terrified of the label "anti-Semite".
The anti-Zionists can always find something wrong with Zionism. Either it is atheistic and Marxist as above, or else it is the cult of messianic religious fanatics. Read it all here - Isn't this regime just the right recipient for advanced US weaponry? Hsu, apparently a Muslim, is considered an "expert" on the Jewish problem in Saudi Arabia, and in some US academic circles, where she is an honored participant in academic fora. The aroma and flavor of Middle Eastern cuisine is infectious, especially when it is backed by huge grants to Middle East studies departments.
Do not think for even one second that these authors and these journals and these writings represent all of Arab thought and writing in general, or that I am suggesting that all Arabs or Muslims are racist psychopathic liars. However, there is a lot of this and much worse in Arab world media, especially where the regime controls the media. What you see in the media is the result of directed policy. The "good guys" are intimidated and ignored, and the ones we see in the media are elevated to the role of "educators." They have the role once fulfilled by "agitprops" in Soviet society: to make sure that everyone understands the party line and does not deviate from it.
Some authors are rarely seen in the pages of Al Ahram or Arab news. You won't find Amar Abdulhammid, a Syrian expatriate, there, but you will find him at his various blogspots and Web sites, like Amarji and Tharwa writing about democracy and decency and peace. Amar Abdul Hammid's writings are banned in Syria of course. Tarek Heggy is sometimes published in the Egyptian press, but more often then not you can find his essays in English here, and his Arabic writing here: You can find more and different commentary at Web sites like Middle East Transparent. There are also some decent and wonderful people writing in As Sharq al-Awsat, which is published from London and doesn't have to put up with creatures like Tanya Hsu.
Most of these writers are not too sympathetic to Israel, and are certainly not "Zionists." They have a point of view that may be unpleasant for some of us to hear, but for the most part they are not racists, and they do not invent Western and Jewish demons and whine about the angelic Palestinians, and do not beat out the monotonous anti-"Zionist" war tattoo found in some of the government media.  
A friend who lives in a certain country to the northeast of Israel wrote that the Middle East could be a wonderful place if we could combine Jewish know-how and Western society with Arab resources, but alas, he laments it will never happen. You won't see his writing in Syrian official media any time soon. But the point is, there are many people like my friend out there, in the vast territories of the Arab world. It could happen, if it was made clear to Arab regimes that they have to give at least equal time in their media and in their societies to voices of reason and reform.  
Ami Isseroff