Wednesday, September 28, 2011

L'Shana Tova

While We're Talking About John Mearsheimer...

...let's remember a far more egregious act than blurbing for Gilad Atzmon's book: i.e., his speech to The Jerusalem Fund at the Palestine Center last year wherein he made it very clear that his problem with the Jews and Israel wasn't only about how the 'Lobby' impinges on US Foreign Policy, but that anyone who defends Israel is a new Afrikaner. And who are the Righteous Jews? The vast majority are anti-Zionist and basically believe that Israel was born in sin and has no right to exist as a Jewish state. It seems to me that this speech, delivered to an anti-Israel audience, takes Mr. Mearsheimer's ideas out of 'policy' (realist or otherwise) and straight into advocacy (propaganda?) with the marking of Jews into Good ones and Bad ones unmistakably Antisemitic:

Mearsheimer on Righteous Jews v New Afrikaners
"American Jews who care deeply about Israel can be divided into three broad categories. The first two are what I call “righteous Jews” and the “new Afrikaners,” which are clearly definable groups that think about Israel and where it is headed in fundamentally different ways. The third and largest group is comprised of those Jews who care a lot about Israel, but do not have clear-cut views on how to think about Greater Israel and apartheid. Let us call this group the “great ambivalent middle.”
"Righteous Jews have a powerful attachment to core liberal values…..To give you a better sense of what I mean when I use the term righteous Jews, let me give you some names of people and organizations that I would put in this category. The list would include Noam Chomsky, Roger Cohen, Richard Falk, Norman Finkelstein, Tony Judt, Tony Karon, Naomi Klein, MJ Rosenberg, Sara Roy, and Philip Weiss of Mondoweiss fame, just to name a few. I would also include many of the individuals associated with J Street and everyone associated with Jewish Voice for Peace, as well as distinguished international figures such as Judge Richard Goldstone. Furthermore, I would apply the label to the many American Jews who work for different human rights organizations, such as Kenneth Roth of Human Rights Watch.
"On the other side we have the new Afrikaners, who will support Israel even if it is an apartheid state…..I would classify most of the individuals who head the Israel lobby’s major organizations as new Afrikaners. That list would include Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League, David Harris of the American Jewish Committee, Malcolm Hoenlein of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Ronald Lauder of the World Jewish Congress, and Morton Klein of the Zionist Organization of America, just to name some of the more prominent ones. I would also include businessmen like Sheldon Adelson, Lester Crown, and Mortimer Zuckerman as well as media personalities like Fred Hiatt and Charles Krauthammer of the Washington Post, Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal, and Martin Peretz of the New Republic. It would be easy to add more names to this list."

The Production of Images in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Thank you to the Elder for making me aware of this project by Ruben Salvadori a young Italian photographer studying at Hebrew University. Planetnext has a good read about the production of images in journalism. Of course, it does not only apply to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but we all know that this setting has provided a wonderful laboratory for producing news:

"The media industry demands dramatic images, forcing photo journalists to seek out and portray drama in their subjects, even where circumstances lack it.

"The public, on the other hand, is constantly overwhelmed by images portraying certain sides of a conflict, but often fail to consider a crucial element behind the scenes: the photographer.

"This project aims to play with the creation and destruction of “drama” by breaking the taboo of the “invisible photographer”.  By including him in the frame, it shows how the image-production process can generate similar photographs that are often over dramatized. In addition, the huge presence of the media turns the conflict into a show in which the photographer has his own role in choosing the dynamics and thus becomes an actor.

"This photo essay is a form of self-criticism by a photographer who became disillusioned by photo journalism after seeing how photo agencies push many colleagues into a hedonistic approach which does not encourage them to consider how their presence influences the events they witness and how their images are produced."

And please allow me to remind you of the two sides of the infamous "Settler runs over Palestinian boy in East Jerusalem" story. The top video is an analysis of the production of the event, below is its presentation on Al Jazeera:

Friday, September 23, 2011

Aisha Gaddafi On The Radio: Daddy's Fine and Carrying His Gun

From Aisha's personal album found in
her abandoned home.
Just catching up with our favorite diva, we learn from The Associated Press that, “Moammar Gaddafi's firebrand daughter said in an audio recording broadcast Friday that her father is in high spirits and fighting alongside his supporters against the revolutionary forces who swept his regime from power. In her first public remarks since the fall of Tripoli a month ago, Aisha Gaddafi accused the country's new leaders of being traitors, noting that some of them were members of Gaddafi's regime before defecting in the civil war. 'Those who have betrayed the pledge they offered (to Gaddafi), how come they won't betray you?' she said in a warning to Libyans.

“The prerecorded four-minute message was broadcast on the Syrian-based Al-Rai TV, which has become Gaddafi's main mouthpiece. The elder Gaddafi, his chief spokesman and his son and one-time heir apparent, Seif al-Islam, have also released statements through the channel since the takeover of Tripoli.

“Aisha, her mother and two brothers fled to Algeria in late August as rebels swept into Libya's capital. Her father's whereabouts is unknown.

"'I assure you, he is fine, a believer in God, in good spirits, is carrying his gun and is fighting side by side with the warriors,' she said.

“Echoing remarks her father has made to the same station, she called on the "lions" of Tripoli and other cities to rise up and fight the country's new rulers.”

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Israel Wedge Issue Bandwagon is Getting Very, Very Ugly

Here's what I think -- there isn't a whole lotta difference between Obama is The First Jewish President in New York Magazine and Louis Farrakhan's: "Barack Obama was selected -- before he was elected -- to be the first Jewish president." (A video I posted with Farrakhan saying these exact words has been removed by Youtube.)

With Israel as a wedge issue you get liberal partisan articles like House G.O.P. Finds a Growing Bond With Netanyahu in the New York Times and Jewish Votes, Some of Them in Play which practically does Obama's polling for him. Then you get conservative partisan articles like New York 9: The Revenge of the Jews, which is just a random example of the dozens that appeared after that NY election. This emphasis legitimizes all the nasty stuff just waiting to come out into the open. It's extraordinary how the Left and Right cross swords over this issue yet produce the same result: Jews are too powerful in America. Gov. Rick Perry tries to curry favor with 'Israel forever', while the other side complains that Jews forced Obama to veto the Palestinians UN bid. Then there is MSNBC's Chuck Todd quipping to Jamie Rubin, "Who makes American foreign policy -- America or Israel?" (Sorry, I viewed it but can't find the clip on the MSNBC website.) 

And then there is John Mearsheimer's* partner, Stephen Walt, crowing that, "Despite what you might think, I don't have much to say about Tom Friedman's column in the Sunday New York Times, where he openly bemoans the disastrous influence of the Israel lobby on UN Middle East policy and puts up in bright lights how it is for Israel as well. I'm grateful to Glenn Greenwald and Phil Weiss for pointing out that this is the main point that John Mearsheimer and I have been making for some time in our writings about the lobby." Surely this is an example of an establishment 'expert' getting real close to crossing over into fanaticism while, somehow, keeping his reputation in tact.

*Do read thisthis and this about how Mearsheimer has crossed over completely. 

*Update: Read this too on the disgraceful wedging of Israel by the Emergency Committee for Israel.

Arafat Aide: UN Bid is Another Mistake

Rachid accused Abbas and others for nurturing false hope for the right of return
"knowing it was incompatible with any potential peace agreement."

Mohammed Rachid, former aide to Yassir Arafat told Daniel Ephron, in an interview for the Daily Beast, that the UN statehood bid is a mistake and "...will not deliver anything practical for the Palestinian people."

'“I see it risking a lot: Risking the lives of the Palestinians, risking the Palestinian economy, risking even the legal structure of the Palestinian Authority.” 
'“We are repeating the problems that occurred in the year 2000…when we lost the very good relations we had with the Americans, when we lost European support,” Rachid said. “We had 300,000 workers in Israel. But because we flexed our muscles to show we can do an intifada (uprising), 300,000 [Palestinians] lost their income.”
'"Referring to years of peace talks with Israelis, Rachid said Palestinian leaders had deceived their people by publicly insisting on the right of millions of Palestinians classified as refugees around the region to return to present-day Israel -- while acknowledging at the negotiating table that a broad repatriation was unrealistic.
'“We think we are cheating our people. We are cheating ourselves…. I was there on that team, in that room, in those meetings, so many times. I’m sorry, I have to tell the Palestinian people: We never demanded that you refugees will come to your homes or to your historical country [en masse], never. Anyone who tells you that…will be lying to you,” Rachid said.
'“They [Palestinian leaders] are not prepared to hold themselves historically responsible for crossing some red lines on the Palestinian side, which at the top of the list is the right of return.”'
Read the whole article here.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Roger Cohen Misreads Iran, Again - Update**

Gee we haven't heard Roger Cohen soft-soaping Ahmadinejad or Iran in a while but he's back and hasn't learnt his lesson. This latest 'analysis' claims that Ahmadinejad is mainly a celebrity these days and doesn't have the clout of days past. In fact, says Cohen, he is an object of amusement among the clerical powers-that-be. Fine, Cohen may be right to that tiny degree, but to assume that Iran's murderous intentions towards its own dissidents as well as Israel was entirely in the hands of Ahmadinejad so, 
consequently, there is less to worry about is preposterous. We don't know exactly what the regime has up its sleeves, and neither does Roger. Can anyone really take him seriously anymore, especially today as the two American hikers have, in fact, been released despite Roger's use of that as an example of Ahmadinejad diminished insider cred.

Here's a cute observation from Jeffrey Goldberg in 2009 about Roger's tendency to have to eat his words:

"It's inevitable: Roger Cohen writes a column either defending the Iranian government; excoriating Israel for being unkind to the Iranian government; describing Iran as a Middle East version of Scarsdale; calling for negotiations with an I-just-realized-they're-odious-but-no-matter Iranian government; whatever -- and almost immediately, Ahmadinejad, or one of his minions, pulls the football out from under him."

More importantly, here is Ahmad Batebi one of the speakers from today's session of We Have a Dream, UN Watch's alternative to Durban III conference. You can also read his Message for Ahmadinejad released today. Batebi may, just possibly, have a better grasp of the situation in Iran than does old Rog. 

** Update: A Washington Post editorial has a better read of why Ahmadinejad's current position within the regime is becoming more delicate: "The release of the two men is not a humanitarian gesture, as Mr. Ahmadinejad would have it, but the suspension of a criminal act — hostage-taking — by the regime. Yet the populist president has tried to use the freeing of the Americans to portray himself as a moderate who can do business with the West — in contrast to the hard-line clergy with whom he has been engaged in a prolonged power struggle. Though he seemingly won the battle to release Mr. Bauer and Mr. Fattal, Mr. Ahmadinejad has been steadily losing the political war, in part because Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has little appetite for the president’s sporadic efforts at detente. In the view of Iran’s hard-liners, there is no need even to feint at compromise with the United States and its allies over the ongoing effort to build nuclear weapons, despite the squeeze of economic sanctions."

Monday, September 19, 2011

On the Eve of Durban III, Let's Remember the UN Zionism = Racism Resolution

From the Palestine Poster Project a collection of pro-Palestinian/anti-Zionist
propaganda going back many decades. As its curator says, "...the Palestine poster genre
surpasses (in number) all other preeminent 20th century political poster genres."

Let's just take a moment to remember the infamous UN resolution which was sponsored by all of the Arab countries as well as Cuba and passed on November 10, 1975 by 75 to 35, with 32 abstaining. Included in the yes column were Spain and Portugal along with most of the Non-aligned and Communist countries. It took as long as 1991 to revoke the resolution, but, ten years later, it was resurrected in the form of the first World Conference Against Racism held in Durban, South Africa. There the resolution was refined to name Israel, specifically, as an Apartheid state. 

Here is the full text of the 1975 resolution. Note how Zionism is slipped in among the other forms of discrimination and oppression, all of which in one way or another were and are still manifest in the sponsoring nations. Note, also, how Israel, among all the nations, is still singled out for its unique status as a 'threat to world peace and security'. 

The General Assembly,

Recalling its resolution 1904 (XVIII) of 20 November 1963, proclaiming the United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and in particular its affirmation that "any doctrine of racial differentiation or superiority is scientifically false, morally condemnable, socially unjust and dangerous" and its expression of alarm at "the manifestations of racial discrimination still in evidence in some areas in the world, some of which are imposed by certain Governments by means of legislative, administrative or other measures",

Recalling also that, in its resolution 3151 G (XXVIII) of 14 December 1973, the General Assembly condemned, inter alia, the unholy alliance between South African racism and zionism,

Taking note of the Declaration of Mexico on the Equality of Women and Their Contribution to Development and Peace 1975, proclaimed by the World Conference of theInternational Women's Year, held at Mexico City from 19 June to 2 July 1975, which promulgated the principle that "international co-operation and peace require the achievement of national liberation and independence, the elimination of colonialism and neo-colonialism, foreign occupation, zionism, apartheid and racial discrimination in all its forms, as well as the recognition of the dignity of peoples and their right to self-determination",

Taking note also of resolution 77 (XII) adopted by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the Organization of African Unity at its twelfth ordinary session, held at Kampala from 28 July to 1 August 1975, which considered "that the racist regime in occupied Palestine and the racist regime in Zimbabwe and South Africa have a common imperialist origin, forming a whole and having the same racist structure and being organically linked in their policy aimed at repression of the dignity and integrity of the human being",

Taking note also of the Political Declaration and Strategy to Strengthen International Peace and Security and to Intensify Solidarity and Mutual Assistance among Non-Aligned Countries, adopted at the Conference of Ministers for Foreign Affairs of Non-Aligned Countries held at Lima from 25 to 30 August 1975, which most severely condemned zionism as a threat to world peace and security and called upon all countries to oppose this racist and imperialist ideology,

Determines that Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Egypt Bites Nose to Spite Face with Sukkot Lulav Export Ban

"Egypt has barred the export of palm fronds - used ceremonially in the upcoming Sukkot holiday - to Israel and to Jewish communities abroad, the Agriculture Ministry has learned.

"The move by the Egyptian government comes just weeks before the fall holiday when the lulavs are in demand. In the past, Israel has imported about 700,000 palm fronds a year prior to Sukkot, representing about 40 percent of the total demand for them every year here."

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Palestinian Ambassador: "Refugees Will Not Be Considered Citizens of the New Palestinian State"

Will the refugees who live in Nah al-Bared, which was almost completely
destroyed by fighting in 2007 between Lebanese Army and Islamist militants,
have to bide their time for the implementation of the Right of Return?

From the Elder of Ziyon today we learn that Palestinian Arab "refugees" wouldn't be citizens of "Palestine" - even if they live there!

Yes, that's right. The Palestinian ambassador to Lebanon, Abdullah Abdullah, said in an interview with the Lebanon Daily Star that, “They are Palestinians, that’s their identity. But … they are not automatically citizens.”

And: “...even Palestinian refugees who are living in [refugee camps] inside the [Palestinian] state, they are still refugees. They will not be considered citizens.”

And: “The state is the 1967 borders, but the refugees are not only from the 1967 borders. The refugees are from all over Palestine. When we have a state accepted as a member of the United Nations, this is not the end of the conflict. This is not a solution to the conflict. This is only a new framework that will change the rules of the game.”

Confusing, isn't it? Is there a con being played here? Read the Elder's full post as well as the Daily Star interview and see if you can explain it to me.

Air Sinai: Egypt to Israel Magical Mystery Tour Operator

Could this be an Air Sinai no-name plane?

I didn't know about the hush hush on Egypt’s phantom flight to Israel, but it tells alot about the foolishness of Egypt's side of the cold peace with Israel:

"So much about this airline is a mystery. The lone ghost-white aircraft – with no logo or name displayed – sits in the far corner of the airfield outside Cairo International Airport. The aged twin-engine Boeing 737 could be mistaken for a CIA plane used for extraordinary rendition of al-Qaeda suspects; it even resembles the DC-2 that flew to Shangri-La.
"The plane, in fact, is the entire fleet of the phantom airline: Air Sinai, a semi-secret division of Egypt Air.
"Though thousands of people have tried and failed to get a seat on this plane, it is possible to do so. It’s just not easy.
"Air Sinai was created in 1982, right after the Israel-Egypt peace treaty went into effect. As part of the normalization of relations between the two former enemies, the treaty called for the national airline of each country to fly regularly in and out of the other country’s main international airport.
"Israel’s El Al airline happily complied, taking often-full flights of internationals and curious Israelis to the Egyptian capital. The owner of Egypt Air, the government of Egypt, was a little squirmier. To fulfill the terms of the treaty without appearing to do so to its citizens and to others from Arab countries to which it flew, Egypt Air created a new division – Air Sinai, operating under the International Air Transport Association code of 4D.
"This airline would fly to and from Tel Aviv every week, without forcing Egypt Air to list the destination among its flights, or on its maps." Read the whole Globe and Mail article here.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Newsweek Vies with Time for Israel-Bashing Headline of the Year Award

From the Daily Beast/Newsweek: Is Israel Over?

I wish I could call up Benny Morris myself and ask him if he had any choice in the selection of "Is Israel Over?" as the headline for his current article in Daily Beast/Newsweek. I very much doubt it. I believe (hope) that this was the handiwork of Newsweek hacks in the spirit of competition with Time Magazine to come up with the most incendiary headline regarding Israel. Remember Time's Why Israel Doesn't Care About Peace? Well this headline to Morris' article is in the same vein.

Read what he actually says in the Newsweek article and his companion piece in The National Interest: Islam's Stanglehold on Israel. He is describing a capitalist liberal democracy in a gigantic economic upheaval -- much like the US and Western Europe. And on top of that it has the anxieties and policy wrong-headedness (including settlements) caused by 64 years of unremitting assault -- in violence and propaganda -- from the Arab and Muslim world and their useful idiots abroad. Morris is deeply pessimistic about the tsunami he expects to be unleashed by the Palestinians' upcoming UN theatrical performance, and who can blame him? Yes, Israel is in trouble, but he ain't sayin it's over, much as the middle-brow intelligentsia would wish. Notice, also, that unlike the West's intelligensia, Morris does not place all the blame for its problems on Israel itself:

Benny Morris
"Since the West Bank and Gaza were conquered in 1967, successive Israeli governments have failed to fully withdraw from them, either unilaterally or with a peace deal. The Arabs may have been largely at fault—in 2000 Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat turned down an Israeli offer to withdraw from 95 percent of the West Bank and 100 percent of the Gaza Strip—but Israel retains its stranglehold over these people and continues to expand its settlement enterprise.
"Now there looms the even greater threat of resurgent Islam, not just within Israel’s borders or the Palestinian territories, but across the region, where it is spreading like a brushfire. Many in the West have taken heart from the so-called Arab Spring, viewing the upheavals as heralds of democratic transformation. Israelis are less optimistic. The Islamist message that is coming out of Ankara, and moving to center stage in Cairo, includes a hard core of anti-Zionism usually accompanied by anti-Semitic overtones. (Egypt’s deposed president Hosni Mubarak is now denounced as a “stooge of the Zionists.” A photo of Netanyahu, dressed in an SS uniform, with a Hitler mustache, making the Nazi salute, appeared on the cover of the popular Egyptian weekly October on Aug. 28. Inside, the journal carried an article called “The New Nazis”—and it isn’t even an Islamist publication.)
"Netanyahu is creating a series of bureaucratic salves for the country’s economic ills. But they will be swamped, and rendered irrelevant, in the tide of Palestinian activism and anti-Zionism that will be set off by the Palestinian statehood bid. It will then trigger shock waves around the Arab and Islamic worlds. Months ago, Ehud Barak predicted that Israel will face a 'political tsunami.' Here it comes."

Have a look at some of my earlier posts about Morris here, here and here.

I hope you don't think it sexist of me but Tina Brown, now at the helm at both Newsweek and The Daily Beast, has a husband, Harold Evans, who gets Israel a whole lot better here and here than she seems to.


Egyptian Rage Against Israel: Nasser-Infused Nationalism - Update**

Egypt's Spring opened up space for public displays of hatred towards Israel
that Nasser used to arouse.

The New Republic's Cairo’s Embassy Riots: Anti-Israeli Sentiment In Egypt Has Nothing To Do With Palestine is one of the best articles I've read for background on the Israeli Embassy rampage in Cairo. Read for example:

"THE VALORIZATION OF WAR with Israel is something that millions of Egyptians experience everyday as they drive over the 6th of October Bridge, one of Cairo’s busiest thoroughfares that was named for the date on which Egypt attacked Israel to launch the 1973 war. Meanwhile, approximately 500,000 Egyptians have left the congestion of Cairo for October 6th City to the southwest, which is home to October 6th University, and an additional 140,000 Egyptians now live in 10th of Ramadan City, which is named for the equivalent date on the Islamic calendar and houses the 10th of Ramadan University. Cairene schoolchildren, for their part, visit the October War Panorama, where they are taught that Egyptian forces defeated the “enemy” in the 1973 war, without any mention of the Israeli tanks that were rolling towards Cairo as the war ended. And while the anniversary of the Camp David Accords routinely goes unrecognized, Egyptians commemorate April 25, when Israel completed its withdrawal from the Sinai Peninsula in 1982, and October 6 as national holidays."

** Update -  A couple of excellent pieces to add to your background reading on what is really going on with Egypt's so-called revolution and the new regime's relationship with Israel:

First get over yourselves and read Egypt's Botched Revolution by Michael Totten in Pajamas Media. Trust me, you won't get this detail in the NY Times. It will fill in all you may not want to know about the ever-present influence of Nasser. Also read Richard Cohen's Israel's hostile neighborhood in the Washington Post, which has a slightly more nuanced editorial policy towards Israel than does the Times.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Richard Falk Still Doubts 9/11 'Truth'

Richard Falk on today's Al Jazeera website has a fairly predictable account -- some of it uncontroversial --  of how 9/11 is perceived globally, but he can't resist repeating his concerns about what 'really' happened on that day. He states his skepticism in a slightly more sober manner than in his original rant, but still:

David Ray Griffin is the philosopher of
9/11 Truth movement. 
"9/11 is especially elusive due to the continuing challenges directed at the official version of the events that make the mainstream narration a sacred text for some and a massive subversion of truth and political legitimacy for others. These doubts have not been put to rest, although whenever they rise to the surface, the enforcers of public truth respond with venomous denunciations of anyone who dares raise questions.

"Against this background, even 9/11 as an event remains contested despite the passage of ten years. How we choose to observe 9/11 is thus unusually arbitrary, exhibiting our nature more than its actuality. Under these circumstances, it may be better to regard 9/11 as a process rather than an event."

He is certainly correct that the event remains contested. There is an industry devoted to it and many 'professional' groups heaping their particular (but essentially the same) challenges to the 'official version.' Thus we have architects and engineers and firefighters and intelligence officers and lawyers and media professionals and medical professionals and religious leaders and scholars and scientists and researchers for 9/11 truth. But when you drill down through their respective websites you come to an intersection of the paranoid Right and Left and it all comes together in Perhaps this is where Falk keeps up to date with the latest developments.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Daniel Libeskind and Michael Arad Score FU Punch with Ground Zero Rebuilding

Call me a chauvinist, but I am ridiculously proud that Daniel Libeskind and Michael Arad are delivering a two-Jew FU punch to the haters by being central to the rebuilding of Ground Zero. Here are a couple of good articles about each of them, in case you haven't already acquainted yourself with their stories:

Daniel Libeskind Plans With Acute Sense of History at Ground Zero.

How the 9/11 Memorial Changed its Architect, Michael Arad

9/11 Memorial design by Israeli architect, Michael Arad

All you have to do is read this summary of the 9/11 Jewish conspiracy theories that persist ten years later and you can understand my chauvinism:

"The conspiracy theories began almost as soon as the towers fell. Four days after the attack, the Syrian newspaper Al-Thawra reported that 4,000 Jews failed to show up for work at the World Trade Center on 9/11 after being warned by Israeli intelligence, according to a 2007 U.S. State Department document debunking the myth. Another held that five Israeli students were secret Mossad agents who knew about the attacks and allowed them to happen. That myth eventually morphed into the conspiracy theory that the Israelis remotely directed the attacks.
"Other myths have followed, spreading around the world and taking root even in the United States. Of 36,000 conspiracy videos recently found on the Internet, 16,000 implicated Jews or Israelis, according to a new report by the Anti-Defamation League titled “Decade of Deceit: Anti-Semitic 9/11 Conspiracy Theories 10 Years Later.”" 

A great example is this little nugget I got off of one of the many Truther sites trolling the internet:

“So the memorialsteins should get the job? for why? Is this to be made into a jewish tragedy when it was jewish paydirt? Really they are not "getting" the jobs. That would entail some type of request. They had the jobs from before the event. Must be so.”

In Egypt, Israel is Still the Opium of the People

During the Israel-Gaza War in 2009, Mona Eltahawy wrote an essay that was both pleading and prescient. In, Israel, The Opium of the People, she railed against the Arab masses’obsession with Israel at the expense of protest against their own regimes. And she anticipated the absurdity of post-Arab Spring Egyptians morphing into the crazed but familiar rioters of yesterday’s Israel embassy rampage. Apparently they still have a problem with addiction:

Mona Eltahawy
“As for my country of birth, Egypt, President Hosni Mubarak, in power for more than 27 years, has presided over a disastrous policy that on the one hand maintains a 1979 peace treaty his predecessor Anwar Sadat signed with Israel and on the other unleashes state-owned media fury at Israel that has fanned a near-hysterical hatred for the country among ordinary Egyptians.

“Yes, Israel's occupation of Arab land angers Egyptians but there is absolutely no space in Egyptian media, culture or intellectual circles for discussing Israel as anything but an enemy. And neither is there an attempt to forge it.

“And now Mubarak, old, tired and out of new ideas, is reaping a policy that plays all sides against each other in an attempt to make his regime indispensable.

“But my question to Egyptians and others across the region incensed at Israel is where is their anger at the human rights violations, torture, and oppression in their respective countries? If such large crowds turned out onto Arab capitals every week, they could've toppled their dictators years ago!"

Read the full essay here for several other killer observations:

“And the demonstrators in Jordan and Lebanon? Who reminds them that in 1970, Jordan killed tens of thousands as it tried to control Palestinian groups based there, forcing the Palestine Liberation Army into Lebanon where in 1982, the Phalangists, Christian Lebanese militiamen, slaughtered 3,000 Palestinian refugees in the Sabra and Shatila camp?

“Not a single Phalangist has been held accountable for that massacre. An Israeli state inquiry in 1983 found Ariel Sharon, then defense minister, indirectly responsible for the killings at the refugee camps during Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon. But don't hold your breath for an Arab inquiry. It is Israel that gives sense to our victimhood. The horrors we visit upon each other are irrelevant.”

BTW, I found this article in my search for the use of ‘Opium of the People’ in contemporary political commentary. I will be writing about another instance of it in the next few days.

Friday, September 9, 2011

How to Solve Egypt's Social and Economic Problems... tearing down the wall of the Israeli embassy. That should fix things!

Cairo: Protesters break into Israeli embassy JPost - Middle East:
"It is great that Egyptians say they will do something and actually do it," Egyptian film director and activist Khaled Youssef said, standing among the protesters outside the embassy.

"They said they will demolish the wall and they did ... military council has to abide by the demands of the Egyptian people," he said

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Why Did Turkey Really Cross the Road?

Ahmadinejad and Davutoglu

In Hurriyet Daily News, my favorite secular commentator, Burak Bekdil wonders if Turkey's leaders' hysterical ravings about Israel finally expose Islamist tendencies at the center of their hearts: 

"No doubt, Turkish government officials sincerely feel sympathy for the Mavi Marmara victims and their families. But this is not precisely why they are acting like big angry Turks. If Mr. Davutoğlu is keen for an honest explanation, he can first listen to his own speeches which, in “I-have-a-dream” fashion, boast that his dream is to 'pray one day at the al-Quds mosque in the Palestinian capital al-Quds.' Yes, it’s all about the militantly Islamic sacrosanct symbolism about an 'Arab-only Jerusalem.'"

"Placards are important. If his own speeches fail to convince Mr. Davutoğlu, he can look at the footage of demonstrations after Friday prayers often ornamented with placards reading 'Now I understand Hitler!' Still not convincing? Let’s have a look at the visual material from the annual al-Quds day celebrations in London and in Istanbul for which thousands of Muslims gathered sporting their yellow Hizbullah flags with the famous gun emblem.
The placards at the Trafalgar Square had this assortment: “Death to Israel,” “Israel your days are numbered,” and “For world peace Israel must be destroyed.” A common Trafalgar-Beyazıt placard was “We are all Hizbullah,” and an only-Beyazit placard read “The army of Muhammad is returning/coming.”
"And here is how a speaker at Beyazıt spoke about peace: 'The world is moving closer to a great day to settle scores [with Israel/Jews]... Israel’s demise is near... If we are going to talk of liberating al-Quds, we must first talk about the annihilation of Israel.'
"One may argue that these are radical Islamists and that Turkey’s rulers are not. Then answer two questions, dear optimist (and you can do this silently). Did Turkey’s current rulers carry, or did they not, the same placards years ago before they decided to become the chameleons of political Islam? Do they, or do they not, even this day talk about the 'liberation” of al-Quds? They may no longer be carrying the placards, but the same words are engraved on their hearts.'" Read the whole article here.
Yet in Haaretz today we learn that Turkey is treading a fine line with their new friends: "Iran on Thursday warned Turkey that plans for a NATO radar station on its territory would cause tension, the ISNA news agency reported.'We expect our friend and neighbor (Turkey) to be more careful and not prepare the ground for policies which would lead to tension and, beyond any doubt, to complicated consequences as well," Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said.' How will Turkey reconcile this with wanting to have it both ways: leadership in the Muslim world with participation in NATO?
Perhaps Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu isn't as great a Machiavellian strategist as he and Prime Minister Erdogan believe he is. Edward Luttwak certainly doesn't think so. Here is what he said in his Tablet interview:
"Q: What do you make of the Obama Administration’s increasingly close diplomatic alliance with Turkey? There seems to be this effort to build up the Turks as an alternative hegemon to Iran in the region, even as Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish prime minister, is trying his best to create an Islamic one-party state.
"A: Hillary Clinton and her staff are not fools. Therefore, they must know that the Turkish foreign minister is a fool. I know him personally. The man is an idiot. Hillary Clinton and her advisers are not idiots. No advantage would be served for the United States to recognize where Erdogan is really going. It’s much better to pretend that he’s a member of NATO and North Atlantic Alliance and all the rest of it."