Saturday, February 27, 2010

UN consistency - more holes than a Swiss cheese

In one of the biggest and most glaring cases of ORFTORFU ever, a senior spokesman of the UN has immediately and in the strongest terms, quite rightly condemned the outrageous statements of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, which included such morsels as "Let us wage jihad against Switzerland, Zionism and foreign aggression"and "Any Muslim in any part of the world who works with Switzerland is an apostate, is against Muhammad, God and the Koran."

What makes this a nailed-on ORFTORFU is that it took a split second for the UN to come to the defence of Switzerland, which didn't even bother to be a member of the UN until 2002, whilst at the same time:
- continuing to exhibit frightening institutional bias against Israel, which the UN actually CREATED through its vote in 1947
- keeping silent about the outrageous statements made by Muslim and Arab leaders as well as numerous other people of influence
- failing to rebut Gaddafi's simultaneous mention of Zionism and its obvious implication to mean Israel (and perhaps Jews everywhere), despite the revocation by the UN, under duress, of their Zionism = Racism policy in 1990
- electing Libya to chair the ruddy UN Human Rights Commission!
- actively promoting the same agenda as Gaddafi via UNRWA, an organisation that  inculcates Palestinian children to wage a similar jihad against the "Zionist Entity" (we don't sully our tongues by saying the word Israel)

Absolute, rank hypocrisy. As usual. And people wonder why Israel couldn't give a shit what the UN thinks.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Fatah fairy tale

A fascinating article by Caroline Glick in the Jerusalem Post:

Israel's is the only government that can force the rest of the world to recognize that Abbas is not an ally.

Fahmi Shabaneh is an odd candidate for dissident status. Shabaneh is a Jerusalemite who joined the Palestinian Authority’s General Intelligence Service in 1994.

Working for PA head Mahmoud Abbas and GIS commander Tawfik Tirawi, Shabaneh was tasked with investigating Arab Jerusalemites suspected of selling land to Jews. Such sales are a capital offense in the PA. Since 1994 scores of Arabs have been the victims of extrajudicial executions after having been fingered by the likes of Shabaneh.

A few years ago, Abbas and Tirawi gave Shabaneh a new assignment. They put him in charge of a unit responsible for investigating corrupt activities carried out by PA officials. They probably assumed a team player like Shabaneh understood what he was supposed to do.

Just as Abbas’s predecessor, Yasser Arafat, reportedly had full dossiers on all of his underlings and used damning information to keep them loyal to him, so Abbas probably believed that Shabaneh’s information was his to use or ignore as he saw fit.

For a while, Abbas’s faith was well-placed. Shabaneh collected massive amounts of information on senior PA officials detailing their illegal activities. These activities included the theft of hundreds of millions of dollars in international aid; illegal seizure of land and homes; and monetary and sexual extortion of their fellow Palestinians.

Over time, Shabaneh became disillusioned with his boss. Abbas appointed him to his job around the time he was elected PA head in 2005. Abbas ran on an anti-corruption platform. Shabaneh’s information demonstrated that Abbas presided over a criminal syndicate posing as a government. And yet rather than arrest his corrupt, criminal associates, Abbas promoted them.

Abbas continued promoting his corrupt colleagues even after Hamas’s 2006 electoral victory. That win owed to a significant degree to the widespread public revulsion with Fatah’s rampant corruption.

With Israel and the US lining up to support him after the Hamas victory, Abbas sat on his hands. Enjoying his new status as the irreplaceable “moderate,” he allowed his advisers and colleagues to continue enriching themselves with the international donor funds that skyrocketed after Hamas’s victory.

Since 2006, despite the billions of dollars in international aid showered on Fatah, Hamas has consistently led Fatah in opinion polls. Rather than clean up their act, Abbas and his Fatah colleagues have sought to ingratiate themselves with their public by ratcheting up their incitement against Israel. And since Abbas has been deemed irreplaceable, the same West that turns a blind eye to his corruption, refuses to criticize his encouragement of terrorism. And this makes sense. How can the West question the only thing standing in the way of a Hamas takeover of Judea and Samaria?

Recently, Shabaneh decided he had had enough. The time had come to expose what he knows. But he ran into an unanticipated difficulty. No one wanted to know. As he put it, Arab and Western journalists wouldn’t touch his story for fear of being “punished” by the PA.

In his words, Western journalists “don’t want to hear negative things about Fatah and Abbas.”

Lacking other options, Shabaneh brought his information to The Jerusalem Post’s Khaled Abu Toameh.

On January 29, the Post published Abu Toameh’s interview with Shabaneh on our front page. Among other impressive scoops, Shabaneh related that Abbas’s associates purloined $3.2 million in cash that the US gave Abbas ahead of the 2006 elections. He told Abu Toameh how PA officials who were almost penniless in 1994 now have tens and even hundreds of millions of dollars in their private accounts. He related how he watched in horror as Abbas promoted the very officials he reported on. And he showed Abu Toameh a video of Abbas’s chief of staff Rafik Husseini naked in the bedroom of a Christian woman who sought employment with the PA.

If Shabaneh’s stories were about Israeli or Western officials, there is no doubt that they would have been picked up by every self-respecting news organization in the world. If he had been talking about Israelis, officials from Washington to Brussels to the UN would be loudly calling for official investigations. But since he was talking about the Palestinians, no one cared.

The State Department had nothing to say. The EU had nothing to say. The New York Times acted as if his revelations were about nothing more than a sex scandal.

As for Abbas and his cronies, they were quick to blame the Jews. They accused Shabaneh – their trusted henchman when it came to land sales to Jews – of being an Israeli agent. And when Channel 10 announced it was broadcasting Husseini’s romp in the sack, Abbas demanded that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu bar the broadcast, (apparently forgetting that unlike his PA-controlled media, Israel’s media organs are free).

SHABANEH’S ODYSSEY from PA regime loyalist to dissident is an interesting tale. But what is more noteworthy than his personal journey is the world’s indifference to his revelations.

Just as the mountains of evidence that Fatah officials – including Shabaneh’s boss Tirawi – have been actively involved in terrorist attacks against Israel have been systematically ignored by successive US administrations, Israeli governments and EU foreign policy chiefs, so no one wants to think about the fact that Fatah is a criminal syndicate. The implications are too devastating.

Since at least 1994, successive US administrations goaded by the EU have made supporting Fatah and the PA the centerpiece of their Middle East policy. They want to receive proof that Fatah is a terrorist organization that operates like a criminal organization like they want – in the immortal words of former EU Middle East envoy Christopher Patten – “a hole in [their] head.”

As for the Western media, their lack of interest in Shabaneh’s revelation serves as a reminder of just how mendacious much of the reportage about the Palestinians and Israel is. For 16 years, the American and European media have turned blind eyes to Palestinian misbehavior while expansively reporting every allegation against Israel – no matter how flimsy or obviously false. When the history of the media’s coverage of the Middle East is written it will constitute one of the darkest chapters in Western media history.

But while the American and European allegiance to the fable of Fatah as the anchor of the two-state solution accounts for the indifference of both to Shabaneh’s disclosures, what accounts for the Netanyahu government’s behavior in this matter?

Shortly after the Post first published Shabaneh’s story, the PA issued an arrest warrant against him. He was charged among other things with “harming the national interests” of the Palestinians.

But Abbas’s henchmen couldn’t put their hands on him.

Israel had already arrested him.

Shabaneh was booked for among other things, illegally working for the PA. It is illegal for Israeli residents to work for the PA. But oddly, although Israeli authorities have known whom he worked for since 1994, until his disclosures were made public, they never saw any pressing need to arrest or prosecute him.

Official Israel has nothing to say about Shabaneh’s information. Instead, in the wake of his disclosures, everyone from Netanyahu to Defense Minister Ehud Barak has continued to daily proclaim their dedication to reaching a peace accord with Abbas. This even as Abbas and his cronies accuse Israel of using the “traitorous” Shabaneh to pressure Abbas into negotiating with Israel.

There are two explanations for Israel’s behavior. First, there is the fact the presence of Barak and his Labor Party in the government makes it impossible for Netanyahu and his Likud Party to abandon the failed two-state paradigm of dealing the PA. If Netanyahu and his colleagues were to point out that the PA is a kleptocracy and its senior officials enable terror and escalate incitement to deflect their public’s attention away from their criminality, (as well as because they want to destroy Israel), then Labor may bolt the coalition.

Beyond that, there is no doubt that an Israeli denunciation of Abbas and his mafia would enrage the US and EU. Apparently, Netanyahu – who to please President Barack Obama accepted the two-state paradigm in spite of the fact that he opposes it, and suspended Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria despite the fact that knows doing this is wrong – is loath to pick a fight by pointing out the obvious fact that the PA is a corrupt band of oppressive thieves.

Shabaneh argues that due to PA corruption, Hamas remains the preferred alternative for Palestinians in Judea and Samaria. In his view, the only reason Hamas has yet to take over Judea and Samaria is the IDF presence in the areas.

The strategic implications of his statement are clear. Far from being a bulwark against Hamas, Abbas empowers the Iranian-backed jihadist force. The only bulwark against Hamas is Israel.

WHAT THIS means is that Israel must end its support for Abbas. Every day he remains in power, he perpetuates a myth of Palestinian moderation. As a supposed moderate, he claims that Israel should curtail its counterterror operations and let his own “moderate” forces take over.

To strengthen Abbas, the US pressures Israel to curtail its counterterror operations in Judea and Samaria. To please the US, Israel in turn cuts back its operations.

Abbas’s men fight Hamas, but they also terrorize journalists, merchants and plain civilians who fall in their path, and so strengthen Hamas. To ratchet up public support for Fatah, Abbas escalates PA incitement against Israel. This then encourages his own forces to attack Israelis – as happened last week when one of his security officers murdered IDF St.-Sgt. Maj. Ihab Khatib. And so it goes.

It is clear that Barak will threaten to bolt the coalition if Netanyahu decides to cut off Abbas. But if he left, where would he go? Barak has nowhere to go. He will not be reelected to lead his party. And if Labor leaves the coalition, Netanyahu would still be far from losing his majority in Knesset.

As for angering the White House, the fact of the matter is that by pointing out that Abbas is not a credible leader, Israel will make it more difficult for Obama and his advisers to coerce Israel into making further concessions that will only further empower Hamas.

Shabaneh told the Post that he fully expects the PA to try to kill him. But in a way, the yawns that greeted his story are his best life insurance policy. Until the world stops believing that Fatah is indispensable, no one will listen to the Shabanehs of the world and so the PA has no reason to kill him.

Just as the Post was the only media organ that would publish his story, so the Israeli government is the only government that can force the rest of the world to recognize that Abbas is not an ally. But to do that, the government itself must finally break with the fairy tale of Fatah moderation.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The strong horse has bolted

Thought this article was interesting in the light of the Dubai incident. It occurs to me that Israel wants to make it quite clear that it still has the odds-on favourites in its stable, and that its opponents are lame. Clichés and puns dispensed with, my point is that many of us have been trying to explain the thesis of Israel toughing it out in a rough neighbourhood for some time, to our well-meaning but naive and wet liberal Western friends. This piece explains it pretty succinctly.


In the Mideast, bet on a strong horse 
BY DANIEL PIPES
16/02/2010 22:01

Lee Smith presents pan-Arab nationalism as an effort to transform mini-horses of national states into single super-horse.

The violence and cruelty of Arabs often perplexes Westerners. Not only does the leader of Hizbullah proclaim “We love death,” but so too does, for example, a 24-year-old man who last month yelled “We love death more than you love life” as he crashed his car on the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge in New York City. As parents in St. Louis honor-killed their teenage daughter with 13 stabs of a butcher’s knife, the Palestinian father shouted “Die! Die quickly! Die quickly! ... Quiet, little one! Die, my daughter, die!” – and the local Arab community supported them against murder charges.

A prince from Abu Dhabi recently tortured a grain dealer whom he accused of fraud; despite a video of the atrocity appearing on television internationally, the prince was acquitted while his accusers were convicted.

On a larger scale, one accounting finds 15,000 terrorist attacks since 9/11. Governments throughout the Arabic-speaking countries rely more on brutality than on the rule of law. The drive to eliminate Israel still persists even as new insurrections take hold; the latest one has flared up in Yemen.

Several excellent attempts to explain the pathology of Arab politics exist; my personal favorites include studies by David Pryce-Jones and Philip Salzman. Now add to these The Strong Horse: Power, Politics, and the Clash of Arab Civilizations (Doubleday, $26), an entertaining yet deep and important analysis by Lee Smith, Middle East correspondent for the Weekly Standard.

Smith takes as his proof text Osama bin Laden’s comment in 2001, “When people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature, they will like the strong horse.” What Smith calls the strong-horse principle contains two banal elements: Seize power and then maintain it. This principle predominates because Arab public life has “no mechanism for peaceful transitions of authority or power sharing, and therefore [it] sees political conflict as a fight to the death between strong horses.” Violence, Smith observes, is “central to the politics, society, and culture of the Arabic-speaking Middle East.” It also, more subtly, implies keeping a wary eye on the next strong horse, triangulating and hedging bets.

Smith argues that the strong-horse principle, not Western imperialism or Zionism, “has determined the fundamental character of the Arabic-speaking Middle East.” The Islamic religion itself both fits into the ancient pattern of strong-horse assertiveness and then promulgates it. Muhammad, the Islamic prophet, was a strongman as well as a religious figure. Sunni Muslims have ruled over the centuries “by violence, repression, and coercion.”

Ibn Khaldun’s famous theory of history amounts to a cycle of violence in which strong horses replace weak ones. The humiliation of dhimmis daily reminds non-Muslims who rules.

Smith’s prism offers insights into modern Middle East history. He presents Pan-Arab nationalism as an effort to transform the mini-horses of the national states into a single super-horse and Islamism as an effort to make Muslims powerful again. Israel serves as “a proxy strong horse” for both the US and for the Saudi-Egyptian bloc in the latter’s cold-war rivalry with Iran’s bloc. In a strong-horse environment, militias appeal more than do elections. Lacking a strong horse, Arab liberals make little headway. The US being the most powerful non-Arab and non-Muslim state makes anti-Americanism both inevitable and endemic.

WHICH BRINGS us to policies by non-Arab actors: unless they are forceful and show true staying power, Smith stresses, they lose. Being nice – say, withdrawing unilaterally from southern Lebanon and Gaza – leads to inevitable failure. The Bush administration rightly initiated a democratization project, raising high hopes, but then betrayed Arab liberals by not carrying through. In Iraq, the administration ignored advice to install a democratically minded strongman.

More broadly, when the US government flinches, others (e.g., the Iranian leadership) have an opportunity to “force their own order on the region.” Walid Jumblatt, a Lebanese leader, has half-seriously suggested that Washington “send car bombs to Damascus” to get its message across and signal its understanding of Arab ways.

Smith’s simple and near-universal principle provides a tool to comprehend the Arabs’ cult of death, honor killings, terrorist attacks, despotism, warfare and much else. He acknowledges that the strong-horse principle may strike Westerners as ineffably crude, but he correctly insists on its being a cold reality that outsiders must recognize, take into account, and respond to.

The writer (www.DanielPipes.org) is director of the Middle East Forum and Taube distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University.

Monday, February 15, 2010

What I don't buy in Dubai

Let's get this straight. A Hamas terrorist is in Dubai to buy weapons and ship them to Gaza. Hamas admit this. Dubai admit this. He has blood on his hands. Hamas admit this. Dubai admit this. The guy winds up dead in strange circumstances, and arrest warrants are issued for 11 foreigners (British, Irish, French and German apparently), while 2 Palestinians are arrested in Dubai.

Immediately, everyone blames Mossad; even the police chief in Dubai has "no doubts that it was 11 people holding these passports, and we regret that they used the travel documents of friendly countries." So what he clearly means by this odd "regret" is that naughty old Mossad have gone and abused the passports of these nice friendly countries as part of their nefarious plot.

Now perhaps I missed something here. The guy was a known Hamas terrorist, in Dubai to buy arms. Hamas is a terrorist organisation proscribed by all those European countries, and selling them arms is completely prohibited. How is it that this police chief has found it so easy to trace the 11 foreigners and arrest the 2 Palestinians, and blame Mossad for the guy's death, but had no idea that a known terrorist was in his country shopping for guns?

This was a man wanted for the deaths of 2 Israelis, in the middle of an act of war against Israel through the purchase of weaponry to use against it from Gaza. This was also a man who had many other enemies (including Palestinian "brothers" willing to help kill him, it seems).

Let's assume for a minute that Mossad did pull this off (kol hakavod boys!). 

We can glean from the press reports that the hit squad were in "hot pursuit" from Syria, that the chap was not planning a beach vacation, and that the Dubai security forces were either blissfully unaware of his presence and intentions, or more likely, turning a blind eye. We can also surmise that showing their Israeli passports at the border might have delayed their "hot pursuit" by say, 10 or 20 years. 

Perhaps we can also assume that nobody much in British, Irish, French or German circles gives a crap if the Israelis do their dirty work for them, using naughty fake or stolen passports, or even ones supplied by said countries on a nod and a wink. They get to have their cake and eat it; dead Hamas terrorist prevented from buying arms in breach of EU embargo, AND blame the sneaky Israelis to boot!

But for the moment we don't know if it has anything to do with Mossad (pa'am acher, boys!). Notwithstanding this, the world's media are mainly interested in this story because that is the direction it's going in.

What I find just incredible is that the world's media have not picked up on the enormous irony of Hamas continuing to play the victim of Israeli "sieges" and "massacres", whilst having the time and resource to send operatives to Dubai (and apparently he was en route to Iran next) to buy and smuggle weapons. THAT is the real story here - the exposé on Hamas's priorities.

And somehow the world just keeps on buying the Hamas sob-story, even though it is, like Dubai, totally bankrupt and built on sand.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Tonge wronge - a letter to Nick Clegg

Dear Mr Clegg

I note with considerable distress that your erstwhile former MP and current Lib Dem life peer in the House of Lords, Baroness Tonge, has once again gone on an excursion far beyond the bounds of UK politics into the contentious area of Middle Eastern affairs. Whilst I do not agree with her general opinion on Israel/Palestine, I do in that most British liberal way tend to support her right to it, however consistently misinformed it is. However, on this occasion, she has crossed even her own incredibly high water mark for civilized, informed debate on this matter, and possibly into the realm of anti-Semitism. I do not use this term lightly.

In her recent statement she made on an article published in the Palestine Telegraph, of which she is a patron, Baroness Tonge has knowingly perpetuated a classic blood libel against Israel, the Jewish state. The article was based on outlandish allegations, that in turn were predicated on an earlier error-strewn story, which dredged up and manipulated a case many years ago in Israel that was similar to the Alder Hey scandal in the UK, with similar enquiries and changes of policy to reduce the chances of a repetition. This earlier story was dressed up as “Israelis harvesting Palestinian organs”, and the article in the Palestine Telegraph relayed a similarly sinister message about the Israeli involvement in Haiti.

Baroness Tonge gives herself a derisory get-out clause by claiming that “To prevent allegations such as these — which have already been posted on YouTube — going any further, the IDF and the Israeli Medical Association should establish an independent inquiry immediately to clear the names of the team in Haiti.”

Your spokesman claims that neither you nor she actually give credence to these claims, but this is totally disingenuous. The mere fact that she makes such a statement shows her underlying views on the subject to be absolutely clear.

As Monroe Palmer, chair of the Lib Dem Friends of Israel, pointed out: “On this basis, there could be calls for an investigation to discover the ‘truth’ in the The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”

Baroness Tonge is not just an independent writer. She was an MP in your party, and has had a title bestowed upon her with your party’s support. Her views carry more weight, as they can be seen to represent the Lib Dems, particularly as she perversely holds the title of Lib Dem Spokeswoman for Health in the House of Lords, and are more widely read, especially as she gave the above statement to the British Jewish Chronicle, surely knowing it would reach a UK audience.

Her despicable attacks against Israel, carefully veiled by her faint praise of the IDF’s field teams in Haiti and her attempt via your spokesman at a belated disclaimer of her personal opinion, cross the boundaries of decency and are on the borderline of anti-Semitism as they echo the classic blood libel against Jews going back millennia. It would be naive to suggest that she is not aware of this connection in the Jewish consciousness, if not most ordinary people’s – and that of the anti-Semites looking for mainstream respectability for their despicable views.

I urge you to finally draw a line under her continued participation in your party by withdrawing the whip from her with immediate effect. She clearly will not apologise on any genuine basis for her libel, and she will be a liability to your party at the forthcoming general elections, once the decent people of Lib Dem constituencies understand that she is far more interested in making underhand attacks on the first and best equipped group of doctors to get to Haiti than she is in UK politics and her own particular portfolio.

This is a case of the public looking to your moral judgement on who speaks for your party in either house.

Incidentally I think the Palestine Telegraph itself is less at fault for publishing an op-ed of this nature, although perhaps a little misguided. It does in fact make a good effort to publish a full range of opinion, including some that I am quite sure outrage its largely Palestinian and international pro-Palestinian readership, such as this article, the core concept of which perhaps the Lib Dems ought to consider working into their own policy on the Middle East:

Meanwhile I look forward to your early response explaining what form of action will be taken against Baroness Tonge by your party.

Kind regards

Michael