Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Why we keep getting the Middle East wrong...
People tend to think of the Middle East as being composed of ‘states’ just like Britain, France, Belgium and the Netherlands. This is a big mistake. Arab nationalism as an ideology never really succeeded in replacing the traditional loyalties which exist in the Middle East: tribe, ethnic group, religious group and sectarian identity.
Most Middle Eastern states are controlled by minorities which are totally illegitimate. Take the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. These people are not Jordanians: they were from Saudi Arabia (then the Hejaz) and the British gave them the emirate of Transjordan, which later became the Kingdom of Jordan. But who, when they write about Jordan, takes into account that it is viewed by at least the Palestinians of Jordan (the majority) as an illegitimate regime? Similarly, Gaddafi was not a representative of the nation of Libya (if there even is such a nation). He represented his small, very vicious tribe. ‘Gaddafi’ is the adjective of the tribe’s name – Qadhadhfa – which means ‘the one who sheds blood [of others].’ (You know, Turkey’s former president Suleyman Demirel said that the Middle East is like a very big feast. Everybody takes part and if you are not in a chair, you are on the plate; it is your decision. I think that recently, the Middle East is much easier to understand in terms of this big feast.)
After the First World War loyalty to the ‘state’ was supposed to replace the traditional loyalties of tribe, ethnic group, religious group and sectarian identity. People living in Iraq, for example, were no longer to identify as members of the 75 tribes but as Iraqis. But it didn’t work. What we see in Iraq today demonstrates the failure of this ‘Iraqi state’ to become the focus of identity or to replace other loyalties: people remain loyal to their tribe and to their traditional ethnic and sectarian identities. The same thing is true in Syria, in Libya, in Yemen – most of these countries failed in their ‘nationalism.’ Do not forget that the borders of these countries were not defined by the local people; they were defined by colonialists to serve Western interests and so those borders are often not viewed as a legitimate political framework. So when we talk about ‘Arab states’, we must take into account that these states are totally different to those of Europe, in terms of the basic legitimacy of the state in the eyes of those who live there.
In Iraq, the army would not fight ISIS to defend the Iraqi state. Syrian Soldiers in Syria defected in big numbers during 2011-12, with only those loyal to Assad’s Alawite sect remaining loyal to ‘the state.’ That’s why they needed Hezbollah to come and fight for them, because half the army ran away. This happened in the Libyan army too. At the beginning of the civil war it split into two parts, one part fighting with Gaddafi, the other against him. At least half of the army viewed him as illegitimate. All these ‘presidents’ appear to be powerful, but when you drill down you see that they are very weak because they rely on the dictatorship and repression to maintain their power.
Tragically, all this is much easier to explain today because of the catastrophe in Syria.
Often people in the West don’t do the proper research. If you do not go on the streets, conduct surveys and speak to people, you don’t know if what you are reading is accurate. And in some states, such as Syria, you were never allowed to do real research. If you relied on newspapers you were told that Syrians were all nationalists and loved Assad. My book, Assad in Search of Legitimacy: Message and Rhetoric in the Syrian Press Under Hafiz and Bashar, showed that it was a fa├žade. Assad was viewed as illegitimate; nobody loved him, everybody hated him. He was especially hated by the Muslims because he is from the Alawite sect and the Alawites are viewed by Muslims as infidels.
If the Arab world could be compared to a ball of explosives because of the illegitimacy of the states and the regimes, then Al Jazeera surrounded it with gas fumes by its incitement, especially against the regimes. Al Jazeera’s Arabic news channel has had a very clear agenda since it was launched in 1996: a mix of anti-regime, anti-Israel, anti-West, and pro-Muslim Brotherhood messages. Al Jazeera has been the mouthpiece of the Muslim Brotherhood since it began to function.
All it needed was a spark to ignite the whole thing. That spark came from Tunisia in December 2010 when a guy named Mohammed Bouazizi set fire to his clothes because a policewoman slammed into him into the street. He, as a man, couldn’t take the humiliation of being slammed by a woman; he couldn’t do anything against her because she was the authority, so he set fire to his clothes and burned himself to death. His colleagues started demonstrating against the police and demonstrations spread to the capital. After a month Ben Ali, the president, went away and Al Jazeera (which broadcast the scenes from Tunisia 24/7), asked constantly, ‘which will be the next country?’ So one day after Ben-Ali went away it started in Egypt, then a week later it started in Libya, in Yemen and, in March 2011, in Syria. As well as the demand for the dictator to go, all the traditional and repressed loyalties – to tribe, religious group, sectarian group – came out onto the streets, killing and injuring whoever they met.
We were shocked by the sudden rise of IS because we did not understand these things. We did not understand how weak Iraq and Syria were. The collapse of the regime in Iraq started with the invasion in 2003; since then, the system never stabilised. Sure, they had elections, but the resulting institutions, like the Iraqi Parliament, actually represented the tribes, and since the tribes are fighting each other, the elected representatives also fought each other. And the economy in Iraq can’t grow because of the fighting. They are producing only 15 per cent of the oil which they were producing in the days of Saddam. Why? Because of the mayhem. Who would invest in that? These countries could be heaven because of the oil, but they are hell because of the constant fighting between ethnic and tribal groups. So in the end these countries were so fragmented and weak that a few thousand jihadists in pick-up trucks could take a third of Iraq and a third of Syria and create an Islamic State.
It is worth noting the significance of the name, ‘Islamic State’. The Caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi – another seventh century term – omitted ‘Iraq and Syria’ from the name because in his view he is in charge of all the Muslims from Indonesia in the East all the way to California in the West. And he wants to be in charge of the whole world when it converts to Islam, either willingly or by force. This is his world view and we don’t have the luxury not to take him on face value because he says what he means and he means what he says; it’s time to take him very seriously.

Dr Martin Sherman - Rethinking Palestine (1:22)

All Command personnel are urged watch this very important lecture by Dr Martin Sherman.  Dr.Sherman thoroughly documents the military impact on Israel of the evacuation of the IDF from the West Bank.

Monday, October 27, 2014

1.  " Ya’alon launches scathing assault on US policy in the Middle East " BY TIMES OF ISRAEL STAFF October 26, 2014;   2.    Washington Post interview with Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon…. Presented for information only. Presentation does not imply approval and/or agreement.

1.     Ya’alon launches scathing assault on US policy in the Middle East  BY TIMES OF ISRAEL STAFF October 26, 2014

In Washington Post interview, ‘without naming names,’ defense minister batters the administration over Palestinian conflict, Iran talks and overall regional approach

While apparently trying to be polite and stressing that he was delivering his critiques “without naming anyone,” Israel’s Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon launched what amounted to a scathing assessment of Obama Administration wrongheadedness on the Middle East in an extraordinary interview at the end of his trip to the United States.
In comments that were candid even by his characteristically no-nonsense standards, Ya’alon castigated the misconception — most recently voiced by Secretary of State John Kerry – that the failure to solve the Palestinian conflict was provoking extremism elsewhere in the region. He rejected the notion — at the core of Kerry’s failed peace efforts — that territorial concessions by Israel would resolve the Palestinian conflict, calling it “irrational.” And he dismissed the idea — central to the vision of this and other recent US administrations — that Palestinian Authority President is a partner for peace.

He also attacked the notion — accepted by the Obama administration — that a deal should be done with Iran that would leave it with a uranium enrichment capability.
More broadly speaking, asked whether the West “just doesn’t get it” in the Middle East, Ya’alon listed what he said were the misconceptions, misunderstandings, naivete, wishful thinking and ignorance that left the West thinking erroneously, “We the Westerners know what is good for the Arabs.” The product of this kind of mindset, which had falsely contended that mere elections in the region would yield democratization, Ya’alon said bitterly, “is collapsing in front of us.”
The Likud defense minister delivered his onslaught in the course of a relatively brief Question & Answer interview with the Washington Post, published at the end of his visit to DC this week — a visit during which, US officials were quoted confirming at the weekend, his requests to meet with Kerry, Vice President Joe Biden and other senior officials were rebuffed by the administration — apparently in punishment for previous critiques aired by Ya’alon and other senior Israeli government ministers.
Nonetheless, Ya’alon did stress in the interview that the Pentagon and the Israel Defense Forces still share an unbreakable bond — he held talks with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Tuesday — and that the US and Israel remain strategic allies despite any disagreements that arise between the nations’ leaders. The politicians “have disputes,” he allowed. But “with all the disputes, the United States is Israel’s strategic ally.”
On the Palestinian front, Ya’alon said thinking was “dominated by too many misconceptions. We don’t find any linkage between the uprising in Tunisia, the revolution in Egypt, the sectarian conflict in Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Mainly, these come from the Sunni-Shia conflict, without any connection to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The core of the conflict is their reluctance to recognize our right to exist as a nation state of the Jewish people…”
Elaborating, he said: “There are many who believe that just having some territorial concessions will conclude it. But I don’t think this is right… The conflict is about the existence of the Jewish state and not about the creation of the Palestinian one. Any territory that was delivered to them after Oslo became a safe haven for terrorists. Bearing that in mind, to conclude that after the [recent] military operation in Gaza this is a time for another withdrawal from Judea and Samaria [the West Bank] is irrational. If we withdraw now from Judea and Samaria, we might face another Hamastan.”
Ya’alon reiterated his familiar opposition to full Palestinian statehood, saying the Palestinians would be limited to a demilitarized “autonomy,” and flatly dismissed Abbas as “not a partner for the two-state solution. He doesn’t recognize the existence of the Jewish state.” Abbas’s stance against violence “is a tactical consideration,” Ya’alon declared. “He believes he might get more by what he calls ‘political resistance’ — going to the United Nations or to international bodies to delegitimize us. He prefers it to violence because in his experience, terror doesn’t pay off.”
Asked directly if this was “why you said Secretary Kerry should just get a Nobel Prize and go home? Do you think the West just doesn’t get it?” Ya’alon replied: “I spoke about misconceptions. It is a misunderstanding, without naming anyone. It might be naivete or wishful thinking — ‘We the Westerners know what is good for the Arabs.’ To believe that you can have democratization with elections ... it is collapsing in front of us. And part of it is ignorance, yes.”
Ya’alon also discussed Iran’s nuclear program, and the deal that may be taking shape ostensibly to rein it in. “The framework of this deal is about how many centrifuges should this regime have,” Ya’alon carped. “Why should they have the indigenous capability to enrich uranium? If they need it for civilian purposes, they can get enriched uranium from the United States or from Russia. Why do they insist on having the indigenous capability? Because they still have the aspiration to have a nuclear bomb. With a bad deal — saying, ‘We will keep this regime from having a bomb for a year or year and a half’ — what does that mean?”
He went on: “What about the missile delivery systems, which are not discussed? Why should they have missiles ready to adopt nuclear warheads?… And what about their being a rogue regime instigating terror all over the Middle East and beyond? They are not involved in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria or Yemen to serve American interests. This is not discussed. By rehabilitating the economy, they might feel confident to go on with these rogue activities, and at a certain point decide to break out from the deal and to have a bomb. That’s why our prime minister said that no deal is better than a bad deal.”
Ya’alon met in Washington this week with Hagel and US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, but US officials said the White House and State Department rejected requests for meetings with Biden, Kerry, and national security adviser Susan Rice. The administration also sought to stop Ya’alon from seeing Power but the objections were made too late to cancel the meeting, according to US officials quoted in US and Israeli media.
The White House and State Department declined to comment on internal deliberations about who Ya’alon should see. At the State Department, spokeswoman Jen Psaki noted that the Ya’alon’s meeting with his counterpart Hagel was “a natural, standard procedure.”
Visiting Israeli defense ministers, including Ya’alon’s immediate predecessor Ehud Barak, have in the past routinely been granted meetings with senior US officials other than their direct counterparts. This week’s refusals came amid increasingly strained US-Israel relations, particularly over criticism of Kerry by several members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet, including Ya’alon.
Earlier this year, Ya’alon infuriated officials in Washington with comments accusing the administration of being weak on Iran and questioning the US commitment to Israel’s security. That followed reports that Ya’alon had criticized Kerry for being unrealistic and messianic in trying to forge an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, and that the defense minister had dismissed Kerry’s West Bank security proposals as unworkable.

2.     An interview with Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon

 Lally Weymouth , senior associate editor ,The Washington Post.

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, known as a hawk, heightened U.S.-Israeli tensions earlier this year by criticizing John Kerry, saying the U.S. secretary of state had a “misplaced obsession and messianic fervor” about the peace process. On a trip to the United States this past week during which he met with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Yaalon spoke with The Washington Post’s Lally Weymouth about the threat he sees from Iran, the Islamic State (also known as ISIS) and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Excerpts:

Q. You caused quite a stir with your remarks about Secretary Kerry.

A. We overcame that.

Secretary Kerry recently said the lack of resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian issue is leading to street anger and recruitment for the Islamic State. What is your response?
Unfortunately, we find the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is dominated by too many misconceptions. We don’t find any linkage between the uprising in Tunisia, the revolution in Egypt, the sectarian conflict in Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Mainly, these come from the Sunni-Shia conflict, without any connection to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The core of the conflict is their reluctance to recognize our right to exist as a nation state of the Jewish people — whether it is [Palestinian Authority President] Abu Mazen or his predecessor [Yasser] Arafat. There are many who believe that just having some territorial concessions will conclude it. But I don’t think this is right.

Will territorial concessions bring peace?
No, they would be another stage of the Palestinian conflict, as we experienced in the Gaza Strip. We disengaged from the Gaza Strip to address their territorial grievances. They went on attacking us. The conflict is about the existence of the Jewish state and not about the creation of the Palestinian one. Any territory that was delivered to them after Oslo became a safe haven for terrorists.

Bearing that in mind, to conclude that after the [recent] military operation in Gaza this is a time for another withdrawal from Judea and Samaria [the West Bank] is irrational. If we withdraw now from Judea and Samaria, we might face another Hamastan.

So you think Hamas would take over the West Bank?
Sure. We just recently intercepted a terror network in the area of Ramallah. We arrested 96 Hamas terrorists.

They were supposed to be staging a coup to overthrow Abu Mazen?
Yes. They were operated and recruited by Saleh al-Arouri from Istanbul. We saved Abu Mazen from them overthrowing him. It might have become a Hamas-governed entity with Iranian arms.

Last summer, you and Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu decided to limit the operation in Gaza — not to reoccupy Gaza.

Was that the right decision?
Absolutely. It was the right decision. From the very beginning, we understood it might be a tremendous mistake to send our troops to take over and occupy the Gaza Strip. That’s why we decided to avoid it and to direct our military operation toward the endgame, which was the Egyptian initiative [a cease-fire with no preconditions].

Why did the operation take 51 days?
Hamas is not marginal. It is a well-equipped militia and has 10,000 rockets, and the know-how and indigenous capabilities to produce rockets [which they got] from Iran. This is not just a terror organization.

How do you see the threat from ISIS?
ISIS is a new phenomenon, originating from al-Qaeda. This is not a threat for us. This is a threat to the free world as they actually claim to [want to] defeat all those who are not ready to follow their religious, Islamic way — whether they are Muslims, Christians, Kurds, Alawites, Shias or Jews. The idea to confront them by creating a coalition is an awakening. . . . Hopefully the coalition led by the United States will contain them.

Kobane [a Syrian town near the Turkish border] is about to fall. The ground forces seem to be weak.
I hope it is not too late to deal with it. Air superiority is very important.

It is important, but is it enough?
It is not enough. Don’t misunderstand me — I don’t recommend Western troops to be deployed. But the troops on the ground, whether they are Kurds, Iraqi armed forces or Syrian militias that are not extremists, should be supported by the West in order to be able to defeat ISIS.

Is it too late in Syria?
It is never too late. Syria is a microcosm of the region. What we see now is fragmentation, the collapse of the nation-state.

So you see a breakup in Syria?
Yes. We have Alawistan — an Alawite enclave led by President Bashar al-Assad, who controls 25 percent of the Syrian territory. We have Syrian Kurdistan in the northeastern part [of the country]. We have many Sunni enclaves. But the Sunnis are divided — we have Muslim Brotherhood Sunnis, we have ISIS, we have Jabhat al-Nusra. We have the Free Syrian Army, which we believe should be supported.

What is Israel’s strategy in Syria?
We don’t want to be involved. We enjoy a relatively calm situation on the border of the Golan Heights. They understand that if they violate our sovereignty, we immediately respond.

How are you going to ensure that in rebuilding Gaza, Hamas does not build more tunnels?
We believe there is the potential to keep a calm situation along the border with Gaza [since] Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad paid a heavy price [in] our military operation last summer. We understand there is a problem in Gaza — an economic problem, the need for reconstruction.

Part of our interest is to pave the way for the Palestinian Authority to get into the Gaza Strip. I’m not sure Abu Mazen is ready to take responsibility.

Right now doesn’t the Palestinian Authority have responsibility only for the crossings?
Not yet. But the opening of the Rafah crossing point is conditioned on the deployment of the Palestinian Authority troops. We proposed for them to be deployed on the Palestinian side of our crossing points as well.

Do you believe in a two-state solution?
You can call it the new Palestinian empire. We don’t want to govern them, but it is not going to be a regular state for many reasons.

What does that mean — the Palestinian empire?
Autonomy. It is going to be demilitarized.

In Gaza and the West Bank?
It is up to them. According to the agreement, they should be demilitarized. It is up to Abu Mazen if he is able or if he wants to demilitarize Gaza. Otherwise, we are not going to talk about any final settlement.

Is Abu Mazen the best Palestinian leader you’re going to get?
I don’t know, but he is not a partner for the two-state solution. He doesn’t recognize the existence of the Jewish state.

He says he is against violence.
Fine. But this is a tactical consideration. He believes he might get more by what he calls “political resistance” — going to the United Nations or to international bodies to delegitimize us. He prefers it to violence because in his experience, terror doesn’t pay off.

Is that why you said Secretary Kerry should just get a Nobel Prize and go home? Do you think the West just doesn’t get it?

I spoke about misconceptions. It is a misunderstanding, without naming anyone. It might be naivete or wishful thinking — ‘We the Westerners know what is good for the Arabs.’ To believe that you can have democratization with elections . . . it is collapsing in front of us. And part of it is ignorance, yes.

Israeli-U.S. relations are in terrible shape. Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Obama had a bad meeting this month. During the Gaza operation, for the first time, missile shipments didn’t go through automatically.
The issue of Hellfire missiles has been solved. It was a bureaucratic issue.

It doesn’t look like an unbreakable bond if, in the middle of a war, the administration decides to review what has always been military-to-military arms transfers.
I can tell you that between the Pentagon and the Israel Defense Forces there is an unbreakable bond.

What about the politicians?
We have disputes.

It seems to be a deep dispute.
With all the disputes, the United States is Israel’s strategic ally.

The Nov. 24 deadline for an Iranian nuclear agreement is approaching. Prime Minister Netanyahu has said that no deal is better than a bad deal. What do you hope comes out of these talks?
We are concerned about the potential deal. Because the framework of this deal is about how many centrifuges should this regime have. Why should they have the indigenous capability to enrich uranium? If they need it for civilian purposes, they can get enriched uranium from the United States or from Russia. Why do they insist on having the indigenous capability? Because they still have the aspiration to have a nuclear bomb.

With a bad deal — saying, ‘We will keep this regime from having a bomb for a year or year and a half’ — what does that mean? What about the missile delivery systems, which are not discussed? Why should they have missiles ready to adopt nuclear warheads?

And they do?
Yes, hundreds of them. And what about their being a rogue regime instigating terror all over the Middle East and beyond? They are not involved in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria or Yemen to serve American interests. This is not discussed. By rehabilitating the economy, they might feel confident to go on with these rogue activities, and at a certain point decide to break out from the deal and to have a bomb. That’s why our prime minister said that no deal is better than a bad deal.

And you agree with him?
Of course. In a deal they are going to get rid of any pressure. In the end, we should be able to defend ourselves by ourselves.

Does that mean Israel alone would consider using a military option?
It’s enough to say we should be ready to defend ourselves by ourselves.

As long as Benjamin Netanyahu wants to run for office, will you not run for prime minister?
As long as he is going the right way, why should I challenge him?

Do you intend to run for prime minister one day?
I don’t know. If the people of Israel want me, I will have to consider it.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

False symmetry between perpetrator and victim: Death of  KLINGHOFFER
EFRAIM ZUROFF \ 10-19-2014

Two dramatic presentations being staged this week, in venues thousands of miles apart on two different continents, will be delivering a powerful message with serious negative implications for the Jewish people. One is the opera The Death of Klinghoffer, which will make its New York debut at the Metropolitan Opera on Monday, October 20, and the second is the musical Cukurs.

Herberts Cukurs, currently on a nationwide tour in Latvia.

On the surface, there does not appear to be any ostensible connection between an opera about the hijacking by Palestinian terrorists of the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro in 1985 and a musical about the life of aviator Herberts Cukurs, a national hero in the 1930s in his native Latvia, but a closer look at the presentations clearly indicates their highly problematic content.

In the case of The Death of Klinghoffer, the main issue is its portrayal of the Palestinian Liberation Front terrorists who murdered Leon Klinghoffer, a handicapped American Jewish tourist who was a passenger on the boat, and then threw his body and wheelchair overboard. In the words of the victim’s daughters Lisa and Ilsa, the opera “rationalizes, romanticizes and legitimizes the terrorist murder of our father.”

Other critics point to the blatantly anti-Semitic lyrics in an aria sung by one of the Palestinian terrorists, as well as in a chorus sung by “exiled Palestinians.”

In the former, the terrorist accuses Jews of “always complaining about your suffering, but whenever poor men are gathered they can find Jews getting fat. You know how to cheat the simple, exploit the virgin, pollute where you have exploited, defame those you cheated and break your own law with idolatry. America is one big Jew.”

In the latter, the Palestinians who were supposedly dispossessed by Israel claim that “My father’s house was razed in 1948 when the Israelis passed over our street... Of that house, not a wall in which a bird might nest was left to stand. Israel laid all to waste... Our faith will take the stones he [Israel] broke and break his teeth.”

Charles Asher Small, director of the Institute for the Study of Global Anti-Semitism, pointed to the fact that one of the sets of the opera juxtaposed the words “Warsaw 1943” and “Bethlehem 2005,” conjuring up a comparison of the fate of the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto to that of Palestinians in Israel, a baseless accusation which is clearly anti-Semitic. One can also add the choice of the opera’s title; the terrorists’ innocent Jewish victim did not merely “die,” he was murdered.

Moreover, in a video posted by the Metropolitan Opera on its website, the opera’s author John Adams explains his text as an attempt “to look at the terrorists and the passengers and see humanity in both of them,” a blatantly unjust creation of false symmetry between the perpetrators and their victim.

In the case of Cukurs. Herberts Cukers, the subject’s fame as a pilot is only half the story. Indeed, during the Thirties, Cukurs became a Latvian national hero after he designed and built three planes, and made solo flights to Gambia, Japan and Palestine – but in the summer of 1941, shortly after the Nazi invasion of Latvia, he volunteered to become the deputy commander of the infamous Arajs Kommando, one of the most notorious murder squads, which helped implement the Final Solution not only in his native land, but in Belarus as well.

Cukurs was not only the second-in-command of the unit, which murdered tens of thousands of Jews, but also personally murdered and tortured many of the unit’s victims, among them children and the elderly. Ironically, in this respect, it was Cukurs’s fame which was his undoing, as he was identified by numerous survivors in postwar testimonies as the perpetrator of multiple murders.

Normally, it would be absolutely unthinkable to create a musical about Cukurs’ life and try to restore him to his prewar glory, but his biography has an unusual end, which gave his supporters an ostensible basis to try to rehabilitate his reputation.

After the war, Cukurs escaped to Brazil, where he was eventually discovered by the Soviets, who requested his extradition. Brazil, however, replied that they would only send him to the country in which he had committed his crimes. The problem was that Latvia no longer existed, leaving Cukurs in legal limbo.

Israel, which feared the impending application by West Germany of a statute of limitations on Nazi war crimes, which would have eliminated the only other legal option for Cukurs’ prosecution, responded uncharacteristically by assassinating him in 1965. Thus the fact that he was never convicted – an element emphasized in the musical – serves as a basis for an outrageous whitewashing of his terrible crimes.

The common denominator of these two presentations is their very problematic attempt to present an alternative narrative to the accepted version of these Jewish tragedies which try to “humanize” the perpetrators of anti-Semitic atrocities. Obviously, there is no comparison between the scope of Cukurs’ crimes and the Holocaust and Klinghoffer’s murder by the Palestinian terrorists, but the principle is the same, as are the vehicles.

In the name of freedom of expression and reinforced by an offensive lack of sensitivity to the plight of these murderers’ Jewish victims, and the larger context of genocidal anti-Semitism by the Nazis and Israel’s Islamic foes, these plays contribute to the ongoing attempts to justify Islamic terror and delegitimize Israel on the one hand, and to rewrite the history of World War II and the Holocaust in order to hide the significant role played by Hitler’s zealous Baltic helpers and deny the uniqueness of the Shoa. All of which make the success of the efforts being waged in New York and in Latvia against these presentations all the more critical.

The author is the chief Nazi-hunter of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the director of its Israel Office.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Why is Kerry singling out Israel?

Op-ed: US secretary of state keeps saying Israeli-Palestinian issue cannot remain unchanged. What about the situation in Syria, Iraq, Russia, China and Turkey?
Like a regular mantra, US Secretary of State John Kerry has a habit of saying that the Israeli-Palestinian issue cannot remain unchanged.
Strangely enough, he isn’t saying that about the conflict in Syria, where the death toll has already crossed the 200,000 mark with people being slaughtered, beheaded and dying in different ways, on its way to the 250,000 mark; he isn’t saying that about four million refugees from Syria and 10 million displaced people; he isn’t saying that about the Islamic State, which is beheading people and butchering minorities; he isn’t saying that about Iraq, which has been torn into pieces, or about Baghdad’s airport which is about to fall into the hands of jihadist terror.
He isn’t saying that about Libya either, a country controlled by a coalition of insane jihad organizations, on the verge of Europe. He isn’t saying that about Yemen, which has died and is controlled by wild tribes navigated from behind the scenes by the “smiling” Iran; he isn’t saying that about the intolerable uranium enrichment in Tehran, which has him and the West wrapped around its little finger.

He isn’t saying that about Russia either, which not only conquered eastern Ukraine, but also annexed the huge Crimea region. It isn’t an “occupation,” after all; that only exists in Israel.
He isn’t saying that about Turkey, which brutally conquered one-third of the island of Cyprus, and still controls the area; he isn’t saying that about China either, which is slowly turning Tibet into a region inhabited by Chinese; he isn’t saying that about Hezbollah, which is piling up tens of thousands of missiles on Israel’s border; he isn’t saying that about his Qatari friends, who are cunningly funding the terror that the United States is fighting against; he isn’t saying that about Hamas either, which proudly announced that it is rebuilding its network of terror tunnels targeting Israeli territory.
He is only saying that about Israel – the only safe, stable, democratic place one can rely on in the Middle East. Only in Israel, the situation cannot remain unchanged.
I would just like to mention that it was John Kerry who was Syrian President Bashar Assad’s personal friend and sat down with him many times for intimate meetings. It was John Kerry, in his former position as chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, who worked to return the American ambassador to Damascus and pressure Israel, with the price being the Golan Heights of course. Then too, the situation could not remain unchanged, and aren’t we lucky that it did remain unchanged.
The question is why is he always singling out Israel of all the nations in the world? Could it be that it pains him to see Israel secure and thriving, and that’s why he has such an urge to weaken it? To sell it to a Palestinian gang whose only goal is to weaken Israel, and then resume the fighting against it after it crumbles?
Can’t he hear the leader of this gang, Mahmoud Abbas, referring to the Jews as “impure,” as they are defiling the Temple Mount when they visit it? Can’t he see the law sentencing a Palestinian to death for daring to sell a house to a Jew? Abbas even added that he would step up the punishment for selling homes to Jews, but how can a death sentence be stepped up?
The situation cannot remain unchanged. Perhaps the foreign minister of the United States would care to explain to us why he only uses this expression here. Why is he singling Israel and the Jews out of all the nations?

Friday, October 24, 2014

Inventing the "Palestinian people"

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

ISIS recruitment: Kerry faults Israel, Singapore’s Lee faults Saudi/Qatari ideology
CHRISTINA LIN   October 17, 2014

Dr. Christina Lin is a Fellow at the Center for Transatlantic Relations at SAIS-Johns Hopkins University. She is the author of "The New Silk Road: China's Energy Strategy in the Greater Middle East" (The Washington Institute for Near East Policy), and a former director for China policy at the U.S. Department of Defense.

Secretary Kerry on Thursday again called for resumption of Israel-Palestinian peace talks and linked it to the cause for ISIS recruitment.
He claimed “there wasn’t a leader I met with in the region who didn’t raise with me spontaneously the need to try to get peace between Israel and the Palestinians, because it was a cause of recruitment and of street anger and agitation.”
This, however, is perplexing, because ISIS is recruiting Asian jihadists in droves, and Asians for the most part do not care much about the Middle East Peace talks. On 25 September, U.S. Pacific Command Admiral Locklear disclosed that ISIS had recruited 1,000 Asian fighters using social media, a number that is probably higher by now.
Moreover, it is likely that Secretary Kerry’s good friends in Qatar and Saudi Arabia, rather than the stalled Middle East peace process, are causing the jump in ISIS recruitment in Asia and elsewhere in the world.
Singapore’s former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew already recognized the root cause of ISIS back in 2003, and pointed the finger at Saudi Arabia for the cause of terrorism in Asia.
A well-respected leader over the past half-century, Henry Kissinger in writing the foreword to the book “Lee Kuan Yew: The Grand Master’s Insights on China, the United States, and the World” (2013) wrote “I have had the privilege of meeting many world leaders over the past half century; none, however, has taught me more than Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s first premier and its guiding spirit ever since.”
Perhaps Secretary Kerry could benefit from a discussion with Minister Lee on terrorism.
According to Lee, Muslims in Southeast Asia were traditionally moderate and tolerant. But in the 40-odd years since the oil crisis and petrodollars became a windfall in the Muslim world, Saudi extremists have been proselytizing, and building mosques and madrassas that preach Wahhabism. Lee argued this Wahhabi brand is a “venomous religion” that has radicalized Southeast Asian Muslims, and marketed to Muslims throughout the world that the gold standard for being a good Muslim is Saudi Arabia.
Southeast Asia has thus fallen victim to the Wahhabi-driven al Qaeda affiliate Jemaah Islamiah (JI) that was responsible for the 2002 Bali bombing and a string of terrorist attacks in Indonesia from 2003 to 2005. Now, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Philippines are witnessing a revival of Islamic extremism via the spread of ISIS.
In fact militants from Indonesia and Malaysia fighting in Syria have formed a military unit for Malay-speaking ISIS fighters called Katibah Nusantara Lid Daulah Islamiyyah, or Malay Archipelago Unit for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The Jakarta-based Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict (Ipac) disclosed this unit was formed in the town of Al-Shadadi in Syria’s Hasaka province last month.
The Palestinian-Israeli conflict does not seem to be a cause for their radicalization.
In a 2002 speech for Singapore’s National Day, Lee stated he did not believe the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, or U.S. action in the Middle East in Iraq and Afghanistan, are the causes of Islamic terrorism. He believed terrorism would continue even if Middle East peace were achieved.
Rather, he argued the big divide in the new world order is now “between Muslim terrorists versus the US, Israel, and their supporters. A secondary battle is between militant Islam and non-militant modernist Islam.”
When Fareed Zakaria of Newsweek interviewed Lee in 2003 regarding al Qaeda and Islamic extremism in Iraq, he warned, “In killing terrorists, you will only kill the worker bees. The queen bees are the preachers, who teach a deviant form of Islam in schools and Islamic centers, who capture and twist the minds of the young.”
He further warned, “Americans, however, make the mistake of seeking a largely military solution. You must use force. But force will only deal with the tip of the problem.”
A decade later, General Jonathan Shaw, Britain’s former assistant Chief of the Defence Staff, echoes the same warning as we face ISIS in Iraq redux. In a 4 October Telegraph article he said that Qatar and Saudi Arabia had ignited a “time bomb” by spending billions of dollars promoting and proselytizing the militant Wahhabi Salafism, and this must stop. “The root problem is that those two countries are the only two countries in the world where Wahhabi Salafism is the state religion—and ISIL is a violent expression of Wahhabist Salafism.”
General Shaw likewise argued that in the short term the U.S.-led coalition could achieve tactical success via military force against ISIS, but in the long-term this will be an ideological battle to counter extremist theology.
The air campaign would not “stop the support of people in Qatar and Saudi Arabia for this kind of activity…it’s not addressing the fundamental problem of Wahhabi Salafism as a culture and creed, which has gotten out of control and is still the ideological basis of Isil.”
Perhaps, it may be more helpful for the US-led anti-ISIS coalition if Secretary Kerry would ask his Saudi and Qatari friends to stop feeding those queen bees.{**"The queen bees are the preachers, who teach a deviant form of Islam in schools and Islamic centers, who capture and twist the minds of the young.”}

Syria tribal revolt against Islamic State ignored, fueling resentment 
Liz Sly  Washington Post 10-21-14

THE ISLAMIC STATE'S BRUTAL MASSACRE OF 700+ SYRIAN CIVILIANS WITHIN A 3 DAY PERIOD  IN AUGUST WAS COMPLETELY IGNORED BY THE WESTERN MEDIA AND BY THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION {Over a three-day period, vengeful fighters shelled, beheaded, crucified and shot hundreds of members of the Shaitat tribe after they dared to rise up against the extremists.}

During that period,the western media and the Obama administration  focused their efforts on maintaining the steady drumbeat of criticism against Israel for approximately 700 “civilian” deaths in Gaza during a period of 50 days -about 140 from Hamas-fired missiles that fell short; and most of the others were voluntary and forced “human shields.”Some in  the Syrian opposition complain that the U.S. is continuing to ignore them.

REYHANLI, Turkey — The cost of turning against the Islamic State was made brutally apparent in the streets of a dusty backwater town in eastern Syria in early August. Over a three-day period, vengeful fighters shelled, beheaded, crucified and shot hundreds of members of the Shaitat tribe after they dared to rise up against the extremists.
By the time the killing stopped, 700 people were dead, activists and survivors say, making this the bloodiest single atrocity committed by the Islamic State in Syria since it declared its existence 18 months ago.
The little-publicized story of this failed tribal revolt in Abu Hamam, in Syria’s eastern Deir al-Zour province, illuminates the challenges that will confront efforts to persuade those living under Islamic State rule — in Iraq as well as Syria — to join the fight against the jihadist group, something U.S. officials say is essential if the campaign against the militants is to succeed.
The Abu Hamam area has now been abandoned, and many of the bodies remain uncollected, offering a chilling reminder to residents elsewhere of the fate that awaits those who dare rebel.
Just as powerful a message for those living under the militants’ iron fist was the almost complete International silence on the bloodbath.
News of the massacre coincided with President Obama’s decision to order airstrikes to turn back an Islamic State advance unfolding farther east in Iraq, toward the Kurdish regional capital of Irbil, as well as humanitarian airdrops to help desperate Iraqi Yazidis trapped on a mountain by the onslaught.
Many Syrians in the opposition are starting to complain about unequal treatment.
U.S. warplanes have carried out more airstrikes on Islamic State forces besieging the Kurdish town of Kobane on Syria’s border with Turkey than on any other single location in Iraq or Syria. And Washington announced Sunday that U.S. planes had airdropped weapons and medical supplies to the beleaguered Kurdish fighters there.

Yet even now, Washington has directed little effort toward helping Sunni Arabs who want to fight the militants but lack the resources to do so, said Abu Salem, who was among the Shaitat tribesman and rebel commanders who gathered recently in an apartment in the Turkish border town of Reyhanli to recount the killings of their clansmen.
“We saw what the Americans did to help the Yazidis and the Kurds. But they have done nothing to help the Sunnis against the Islamic State,” he said.
Abu Salem and the other men said they did not so much begrudge the efforts to help Kurds as wonder why no one had helped them when their community was under attack. The carnage inflicted on the Shaitat tribe has instilled in the Abu Hamam survivors a loathing for the Islamic State and the warped brand of Islamist politics for which it stands, said Abu Siraj, another of the tribesmen. A former lawyer, he, like most of the men, asked to be identified only by his nom de guerre because he fears being tracked even to Turkey by the jihadists.
“Now we hate everyone who prays,” he said. “Now wehate even beards.”

But finding support for efforts to organize against the militants is proving hard, he said, pulling out his mobile phone to show a photograph released that day of the trussed, decapitated body of a friend who had purportedly been caught attempting to throw a hand grenade against them.
“When you see your relatives being slaughtered, you will be forced to accept compromises you would otherwise never have been prepared to accept,” he said. “And when you see the world has abandoned you, you will do nothing about it.”
U.S. officials say the Kobane attacks were not intended to show preference for one community over another, but rather served as an opportunity to take aim at the large number of militant fighters who converged on the town to capture it. The Pentagon claims to have killed hundreds of Islamic State militants around Kobane, in keeping with the wider U.S. goal of targeting the Islamists’ infrastructure and resources in Syria to downgrade their ability to reinforce and finance their operations in Iraq.
The primary focus of the American strategy, Gen. Lloyd Austin, the U.S. Central Command leader, stressed last week, remains on Iraq, and on preventing the Islamic State from projecting power there.
“Iraq is our main effort, and it has to be,” he said at a news conference in Washington. “And the things we are doing right now in Syria are being done primarily to shape the conditions in Iraq.”
Such comments have reinforced perceptions among Syrians that the U.S.-led air war does not have their interests at heart. Differences over the purposes and direction of the war risk alienating the many rebel groups that were engaged in battling the Islamic State before the U.S. government intervened, said Steven Heydemann of the U.S. Institute of Peace.
“It’s already become an impediment,” he said. “I don’t think the administration has fully taken on board how much damage the way they’ve conducted this campaign has done to the relationships they’ve developed with some of these actors.” 
‘We were finished’

The Sunni areas of Syria occupied by the Islamic State would seem to be a more likely venue for a revolt than Iraq, where the extremists’ extensive territorial gains this year were aided by local Sunni insurgents and tribes alienated by the discriminatory behavior of the Shiite-led Iraqi government.
In Syria, however, the Islamic State’s conquests came at the expense of local rebels who already had fought to eject their government and then found themselves outgunned and outmaneuvered by the newly emerging Ilamist extremists.

The Shaitat tribe, along with many others in the oil-rich province of Deir al-Zour bordering Iraq, spent much of this year battling to retain control of their area against encroachments by the Islamic State, and they might have prevailed had the Islamic State not swept into the Iraqi city of Mosul in June, rebels say. The vast amounts of U.S. weaponry the Islamic State captured were trundled across the rapidly dissolving border with Syria, said Abu Salem, who commanded a rebel battalion in the area before he escaped to Turkey.
“After they took Mosul, we were finished,” he said.
Abu Hamam and a cluster of villages nearby were targeted. After the new armaments from Iraq arrived, “we realized we had no hope. We were surrounded. We wanted to save our people,” said Abu Abdullah, another of the Shaitat fighters, describing how they agreed to a truce with the militants in mid-July.
The Islamic State was permitted to enter the town and establish a garrison, but local leaders were left in charge, he said.
Relations quickly frayed. The crunch came, the tribesmen in Reyhanli said, when Islamic State fighters whipped a local man who was caught smoking a cigarette in the street, a crime under the Islamic State’s harsh interpretation of Islam. The man’s brother, incensed, shot at a passing Islamic State patrol, killing one of its fighters.
The brother was arrested and publicly beheaded, triggering an outpouring of rage. Residents marched on the Islamic State’s headquarters, forcing its fighters to flee. The militants then brought in reinforcements and began shelling the town, using artillery they had captured the previous month in Iraq.

After a three-day barrage, the Islamic State militants moved in. They rounded up all the surviving men and boys older than 15 they could find and set about systematically killing them, the fighters in Reyhanli said.
A photo essay on an Islamic State blog boasted of the different ways tribesmen were killed, including beheadings, mass shootings and a crucifixion. A video shows how the militants lined up scores of captives on a road, their hands bound, then set about clumsily decapitating them, one by one. The executioners, speaking in Tunisian, Egyptian and Saudi accents, taunted those not yet dead by swinging severed heads in front of their faces and telling them, “It’s your turn next.”
The tribesmen in Reyhanli, like many other rebel fighters in Deir al-Zour now living in Turkey or elsewhere in Syria, said they managed to slip away using fake identity cards or escape routes honed during their battle against the government.
They said they are plotting their return, to take revenge and fight — without counting on international support.
“We are tribal people. We will never forget to avenge,” said Abu Salem, the commander of the group. “But we will do it by ourselves, in our own way. We won’t take any help from anyone.”
Liz Sly is the Post’s Beirut bureau chief. She has spent more than 15 years covering the Middle East, including the Iraq war. Other postings include Africa, China and Afghanistan.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Militias rule the day in strife-torn Middle East
 JOSEPH KRAUSS October 17, 2014

Chaos unleashed by Arab Spring has led to rise of powerful armed groups

  • In this Monday, Sept. 10, 2012 file photo, a Free Syrian Army fighter walks through a street in Amariya district in Aleppo, Syria. (Photo credit: AP/Manu Brabo)
  • In this Friday, Nov. 8, 2013 file photo, a masked Palestinian member of Hamas marches in Nuseirat Refugee Camp, central Gaza Strip. (Photo: AP/Hatem Moussa)
  • In this Sunday, Dec. 11, 2011 file photo, masked Pakistani Taliban militants take part in a training session in an area of Pakistan's tribal South Waziristan region along the Afghan border. (AP/Ishtiaq Mahsud)
  • In this Sunday, May 25, 2014 file photo, members of the Lebanese Resistance Brigades, a Hezbollah armed and funded militant group, attend a rally commemorating "Liberation Day," which marks the withdrawal of the Israeli army from southern Lebanon in 2000, in the southern border town of Bint Jbeil, Lebanon. (Photo credit: AP/Hussein Malla, File)
  • In this Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2012 file photo, Libyan militias from towns throughout the country's west parade through Tripoli, Libya. (Photo credit: AP/Abdel Magid Al Fergany, File)
  • In this Thursday, July 3, 2014 file photo, an elite unit of women Kurdish Peshmerga fighters trains in Sulaimaniyah, 160 miles (260 kilometers) northeast of Baghdad, Iraq. (Photo credit: AP) 
  • In this Sunday, June 15, 2014 file photo, Shiite tribal fighters raise their weapons and chant slogans against the al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State group in Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, 340 miles (550 kilometers) southeast of Baghdad, 
Embattled governments in Iraq and Syria have come to rely on Shiite militias as their armies have crumbled in the face of mostly Sunni insurgents and rebels. In Libya, various armed groups loosely allied with two rival governments have fought over bullet-riddled airports. Shiite rebels in Yemen have swept down from the north, capturing the capital and, on Tuesday, a key port city.
The chaos unleashed by the Arab Spring has led to the rise of powerful militias — including many Islamic extremist groups — across a Middle East where many central governments have been exposed as weak. Some of the groups are allied with the governments, while others are fighting to topple them. Some — like the Kurdish peshmerga in northern Iraq — are seen as vital allies for the West. All could prove to be major obstacles to peace or stability in the region.

Here is a country-by-country look:
The Islamic State extremist group rampaged across western and northern Iraq in June, making short work of the Iraqi army. Shiite militias — many allied with neighboring Iran — mobilized to defend the government, parading weapons through the streets of Baghdad and raising fears of a new round of sectarian violence. Amnesty International said Tuesday the Shiite militias have abducted and killed scores of Sunni civilians with the tacit support of the Shiite-led government.
In the north, the peshmerga responded to the Islamic State onslaught by seizing disputed territory outside the Kurdish autonomous region, including Kirkuk, a major oil hub. The secular, pro-Western peshmerga have been a close ally of Washington since the 1990s, and they are slowly rolling back the extremists with the aid of US airstrikes. But they may also be laying the groundwork for an independent state, setting up an inevitable political confrontation with Iraq, neighboring Turkey and the US itself.
In northern Syria, another Kurdish militia, the People’s Protection Units (YPG) is leading the defense of the border town of Kobani, which has emerged as a key test of whether the US air campaign can halt the advance of the Islamic State group. The YPG has been one of the most effective opponents of the extremist group, but Ankara views it as an extension of the Kurdish PKK, which waged a long and bloody insurgency in southeastern Turkey. Syrian rebels accuse the YPG of conspiring with President Bashar Assad’s government, charges the group denies.
The Syrian rebels are themselves divided into several armed groups, many with conflicting visions for the country, and hold scattered tracts of territory across Syria. Assad has been relying on pro-government militias as officers and soldiers have defected from the armed forces. After the start of the 2011 uprising, he moved to bolster pro-government militias — including feared enforcers known as the shabiha — while the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah has fought alongside Assad’s troops in a string of key victories against the rebels.
Hezbollah is the most powerful armed group in Lebanon. It flexed its muscles in 2008, when it briefly seized neighborhoods in west Beirut during a power struggle with the government, then led by Hezbollah’s political opponents. Hezbollah insists it has no desire to dominate Lebanon and has long argued its vast arsenal — including tens of thousands of rockets — is needed to defend the country against Israel. But its decision to fight alongside Assad’s forces has angered many in Lebanon, which is bitterly split over the Syrian civil war. Hezbollah, which is considered a terrorist group by many in the West, says it is fighting in Syria to defend Lebanon against Sunni extremists.
The Islamic militant group Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007, a year after winning Palestinian elections, leaving the Western-backed Palestinian Authority confined to the Israeli-occupied West Bank. After several failed attempts at reconciliation, Hamas agreed this year to back a unity government led by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, officially ending the rift.
But with tens of thousands of security forces, Hamas remains in de facto control of the coastal strip. This week, international donors pledged $2.7 billion for the rebuilding of Gaza after last summer’s war — the third between Israel and Hamas since 2008 — but those efforts hinge on Israel allowing construction materials into the blockaded territory.
Israel has insisted that Abbas’ forces monitor the borders, fearing that Hamas — which has launched thousands of rockets into Israel in the past decade — could divert cement, steel and other goods for military purposes. Hamas says it will let the Western-backed unity government operate but could easily sabotage reconstruction efforts if it feels it is relinquishing too much authority.
The toppling of long-ruling dictator Muammar Gaddafi in a NATO-backed uprising in 2011 left a power vacuum that has been filled by former rebel brigades, local and tribal militias, and Islamic extremists. The internationally recognized government is forced to meet in the eastern city of Tobruk, while powerful militias loosely allied with a rival Islamist-led government control the capital Tripoli and its international airport, which was largely destroyed in fighting over the summer. In eastern Libya, renegade Gen. Khalifa Hifter has been battling Islamic extremist groups, including one implicated in the 2012 attack on the US diplomatic facility in Benghazi that killed the ambassador and three other Americans.
Since the start of the year, Shiite rebels known as the Houthis have swept out of their northern enclave and routed Sunni militants allied with the Islamist Islah party as well as Yemen’s US-backed security forces. The Houthis seized the capital Sanaa last month and captured the Red Sea port city of Hodeida on Tuesday. Their opponents view them as an Iranian-backed proxy bent on controlling Yemen, while the Houthis insist they simply want a more representative national government that can combat corruption and secure the country. Yemen also has an increasingly assertive separatist movement in the south and is home to al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, long seen as one of the most potent affiliates of the global terrorist network.
More than a decade after the US-led invasion drove the Taliban from power in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, the Islamic extremist group is at war with the Western-backed Afghan government, which last month agreed to allow some US and NATO forces to remain in the country past the end of the year.
In neighboring Pakistan, a local offshoot of the Taliban as well as other insurgents regularly carry out attacks, including a brazen raid on Karachi’s international airport in June. Shortly thereafter, Pakistan launched a military offensive in North Waziristan, a tribal region along the Afghan border from which militants have long staged attacks on both countries.