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The Oil Cringe of the West: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J.B. Kelly Vol. 2
edited by S.B. Kelly
The Impact of Islam
by Emmet Scott
Sir Walter Scott's Crusades and Other Fantasies
by Ibn Warraq
Fighting the Retreat from Arabia and the Gulf: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J.B. Kelly. Vol. 1
edited by S.B. Kelly
The Literary Culture of France
by J. E. G. Dixon
Hamlet Made Simple and Other Essays
by David P. Gontar
Farewell Fear
by Theodore Dalrymple
The Eagle and The Bible: Lessons in Liberty from Holy Writ
by Kenneth Hanson
The West Speaks
interviews by Jerry Gordon
Mohammed and Charlemagne Revisited: The History of a Controversy
Emmet Scott
Why the West is Best: A Muslim Apostate's Defense of Liberal Democracy
Ibn Warraq
Anything Goes
by Theodore Dalrymple
Karimi Hotel
De Nidra Poller
The Left is Seldom Right
by Norman Berdichevsky
Allah is Dead: Why Islam is Not a Religion
by Rebecca Bynum
Virgins? What Virgins?: And Other Essays
by Ibn Warraq
An Introduction to Danish Culture
by Norman Berdichevsky
The New Vichy Syndrome:
by Theodore Dalrymple
Jihad and Genocide
by Richard L. Rubenstein
Spanish Vignettes: An Offbeat Look Into Spain's Culture, Society & History
by Norman Berdichevsky

These are all the Blogs posted on Wednesday, 11, 2009.
Wednesday, 11 February 2009
Crackers in Caracas

That was a joke my geography teacher used to make in the pre PC, pre national curiculum days when a teacher could liven a lesson with a (generally bad) joke. What is happening in Venezuela is no laughing matter. 
From the Latin American Herald Tribune, El Universal and AP.
The investigations conducted by officers of the Department against Theft of the Scientific and Criminal Investigation Force (Cicpc) into the attack against a synagogue in Caracas last January 30 concluded that a police detective woman of the Cicpc, attached to the Homicide Department, led the actions against the synagogue.
The woman was arrested during the early hours of Sunday, as well as other 10 people, six of them officers of the Caracas Metropolitan Police. Her name is Yadira Torres . . .
According to a report provided by sources of the Cicpc, the attack was due, unofficially, to the fact that one of the defendants, Edgar Alexander Cordero, an officer of the Metropolitan Police who was also a bodyguard of one of the rabbis of the synagogue, asked him for a loan and when the rabbi refused, Cordero decided to plan the robbery of the synagogue, since he thought that the safes had plenty of money.
Venezuela's justice minister,Tareck El Aissami, (is he local?) said that one of the two security guards on duty during last month's attack at the Tiferet Israel Synagogue helped intruders by cutting electricity cables feeding an electric fence surrounding the building and deactivating the alarm.
Elias Farache, president of the Venezuelan-Israelite Association, told The Associated Press that he could not confirm that one of the suspects had worked as a bodyguard for a rabbi.
Later a change of tune.
in a press conference on Monday, Interior and Justice Minister El Aissami tried to put the blame on the Jews themselves.
President Hugo Chávez' government would appear to be totally intent on depicting the recent attack on a synagogue in the Venezuelan capital as a deliberately self-inflicted act aimed at discrediting the regime.
The idea that the attack and occupation of the synagogue was some sort of owngoal-on-purpose has been hanging in the air for some days, and has now been given the official seal of approval by Interior and Justice Minister Tarek El Aissami.
El Aissami then went on to say that the results reinforce the hypothesis of internal complicity as the chief of this band of security personnel met the rabbi of this synagogue until December 2008.
El Aissami explained that this officer was well aware of Metropolitan Police operations and the internal structure of the synagogue, as well as the points where the security devices were located in the temple.
The synagogue was forcibly entered by a group of 15 individuals carrying firearms late at night on January 30. They then occupied the building for the following four hours, inflicting a degree of damage on the interior and exterior of the building, mostly involving paint spraying.
A newspaper report late last week quoted unidentified investigators as having said that religious icons including the Torah (Jewish Bible) were left unscathed. These details have been held up to support the argument that the attack was carried out by members of the Jewish faith. The attackers left behind no indication of their religious or political orientation, and nobody has yet claimed responsibility for the incident.
The assailants left before dawn the next day. Ever since, there have been persistent questions about how they could have gotten away from the scene of the crime after spending so much time inside the building.
El Aissami and the government have been under pressure to produce results in the investigation of the case, amid suspicions that some of president's hard line supporters may have been responsible.
The attack on the synagogue came after Chávez directed harshly worded criticism against Israel for its recent military offensive in the Gaza Strip. Late last week, a newspaper report cited unidentified "investigators" as "not ruling out" a "self-attack" on the synagogue.
Faced with the suspicion that the attack involved hard line supporters of the president, El Aissami declared there was "nothing more distant from being a revolucionary than he who generates violence, that with irrationality tries to impose his arguments."
That said, a virulently anti-Israeli statement worded in language that can only be described as fascistic recently appeared on a website described as one of "major importance" to the president's supporters or chavistas. I don't think Vicki Pollard is what they have in mind.
This spoke of the "savageries of the Zionist Jews" and noted that "two Jewish citizens occupy high positions" at the national telecommunications commission, Conatel.
It went on to describe Salomón Cohen, proprietor of the Sambil chain of shopping malls – including an almost completed project in downtown Caracas that Chávez has announced he's expropriating – as "this imbecile."
Multinationals "linked with the Zionist regime in Israel" should be shunned, the statement continued, going on to name a string of some of the biggest names best known to Venezuela's army of avid consumers.
Then the statement went further: Businesses belonging to "Zionist Jews" or which backed the "Nazifascit" Jewish state should be confiscated. Jews should be obliged in public to proclaim in favor of Palestine, and Jewish officials should be weeded out of state jobs, it added.
The state intelligence agencies were urged in the statement to detect "hidden agents of Mossad" – the Israeli intelligence network – and members of non-governmental organizations who had received advice or financing from the "artificial state of Israel."
Also singled out for action by the statement were "squalid students at private and autonomous universities" – "escaulido" has long been the president's pet epithet for middle class or upper income people who don't happen to agree with him.
Departing from the domestic scene, the statement called for an international conference to confront the "Eurogringo genocidal colony of Israel" and for Ilich Ramírez Sánchez, the Venezuelan terrorist more commonly known as Carlos The Jackal who is jailed in France, to be freed "without condition."
More seriously, former Vice-President Jose Vicente Rangel in his regular column under his “Marciano” byline wrote an article last week accusing opposition leaders Yon Goicochea, Antonio Ledezma and Henrique Capriles of being a “Satanic Trio” having the backing of Mossad and setting up an intelligence network to destabilize the Government with Mossad’s help.
"Many in the Jewish community feel that the climate of confrontation in the country -- the discrediting of Israel, the breaking of relations with Israel, the expelling of the Ambassador of Israel -- has created a hostile environment against Jews in the country," leading Venezuelan Rabbi Brener told the Latin American Herald Tribune. "Venezuelans do not differ between Jews and Israelis, and the aggressive and conflictive environment that the government's statements create -- equating Zionism with racism, for example -- permit these kind of things to happen. Regrettably, this is not an isolated event."

Posted on 02/11/2009 4:21 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Wednesday, 11 February 2009
Who are they afraid of?

The despicable and cowardly decision by the Home Office to ban Geert Wilders from entry into the UK was justified on public order grounds. But who is the threat to public order? Far from advocating violence, Geert Wilders  calls on Muslims to remove the violent verses from the Koran - thus making it much shorter. So does Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, whose mind is as frivolous as her name, seriously think that any violence is to come from non-Muslims? Women, perhaps, whipped up into a frenzy at the sight of Geert Wilders' hairstyle? Of course not. She knows full well that any danger to public order will come from Muslims, 10,000 of whom "Lord" Ahmed threatened to muster when the screening of Fitna was first advertised. David Thompson has it exactly right:

[T]o the best of my knowledge, Wilders hasn’t called for the murder or intimidation of anyone; nor does he advocate terrorism or use casual threats of violence to get his own way. He is, in fact, the recipient of death threats and has spent the last few years living under police protection. An honour he shares with several outspoken women, careless academics and elderly cartoonists.

One therefore has to marvel at the suggestion by the Home Secretary’s Office that in and of itself Wilders’ visit would “pose a genuine, present and sufficiently serious threat to one of the fundamental interests of society” and would “threaten community harmony and therefore public security in the UK.” Presumably what is meant - but not being said - is that a significant number of Muslims with anger management issues would take it upon themselves either to threaten violence or do violence to Mr Wilders, and possibly to otherstoo. One wonders, then, where the real “threat to the fundamental interests of society” is coming from.

One might also note the similarities with recent reactions to a much less outlandish figure, Douglas Murray, who was disinvited from chairing a debate on Islam and liberalism at the London School of Economics, ostensibly on grounds of “campus relations” and, wait for it, “security fears”. But fear of what exactly? Did the LSE anticipate the well-mannered Mr Murray making threats, mouthing obscenities and throwing chairs? Did it expect Murray - who can be heard debating Tariq Ramadan here - to suddenly join the fray in a fit of violent passion and emotional incontinence? Or did the LSE anticipate others, mysteriously unnamed, doing somethingsimilar?

This attitude assumes that the reaction of Muslims is a given, like a force of nature, about which we can do nothing, and to which we must simply accommodate ourselves. The decision is the equivalent of telling women that they must not venture out of doors because to do so will lead, as night follows day, to rape.

Posted on 02/11/2009 8:03 AM by Mary Jackson
Wednesday, 11 February 2009
Hamlet without the Prince

On Radio 4 today, Lord Pearson, the principal organiser of the House of Lords screening of Geert Wilders' film Fitna, announced that the film will be shown tomorrow (Thursday) "with or without Wilders". Meanwhile, Mr Wilders has stated his intention to defy the ban and come to London anyway.

The screening of Fitna without Wilders will be like Hamlet without the Prince. But since the debate is on free speech anyway, not just in the context of the film, his ban will inevitably be discussed. And if Mr Wilders is arrested at Heathrow, the Government will appear foolish as well as tyrannical and cowardly.

Geert Wilders has been to the UK before at least twice; he had lunch at the House of Lords in December last year, and in August was interviewed by BBC Radio 4. So it is clearly the screening of Fitna that has provoked the ban. Had there been no ban and no protest by Lord Ahmed, this private screening might  have passed unnoticed. Not now.

Posted on 02/11/2009 8:22 AM by Mary Jackson
Wednesday, 11 February 2009
Putin denies dancing to Abba hits

Well he would, wouldn't he? From the BBC:

"Knowing me, knowing you, it's the best I could do."

 An Abba tribute band says it has performed a private concert for Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Bjorn Again says it was paid £20,000 to play the gig 200 miles (320km) north of Moscow on 22 January.

Bjorn Again's manager Rod Stephen and other band members said Mr Putin danced to Abba hits and shouted "Bravo!"

The PM's spokesman denied the claim. Mr Putin - a former KGB spy who has a black belt in judo - is known in Russia and the West for his macho image.

Bjorn Again says that in January it was flown from London to Moscow and then driven north to a place on the shores of Lake Valdai.

"It was the smallest audience we have ever performed to but Mr Putin was really enjoying it, shouting 'Bravo' and clapping with the others," Aileen McLaughlin, who performs as Abba's blonde Agnetha Faltskog, was quoted as saying by the Times newspaper.

"He [Putin] was dancing along in his seat to Super Trouper and raised his hands in the air during Mamma Mia when we asked the audience to," she said.

Bjorn Again says it performed 15 Abba songs during the private gig, claiming that it was paid by the Kremlin.

Mr Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov denied that the prime minister attended any such concert.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who succeeded Mr Putin last May, is a well-known fan of British band Deep Purple.

It should have been Boney M:

Ra Ra Rasputin, lover of the Russian queen
There was a cat that really was gone
Ra Ra Rasputin, Russia's greatest love machine
It was a shame how he carried on

Posted on 02/11/2009 10:04 AM by Mary Jackson
Wednesday, 11 February 2009
Swede’s Koran sticker shuts down popular Indian ski resort

From The Swedish edition of The Local
 Swedish man on a ski holiday in India caused hundreds of angry demonstrators to take to the streets demanding he be punished for putting a sticker with a verse from the Koran on his skis.
The Swede, who lives in Qatar, was nearly beaten by a mob of irate protesters on Saturday in the ski resort village of Gulmarg, located in Kashmir in northern India, India’s Telegraph newspaper reports.
Rumours that the Swede was also Jewish didn’t help the situation, causing many angered residents to assume the act was a deliberate provocation.

The Swedish man explained that that the sticker had been given to him for good luck by his wife, who is Muslim.
“She had given him the sticker to protect him from harm since he had come here for skiing. He inadvertently put the sticker on his ski equipment, not knowing the local sensitivities,” said Kashmir police chief B. Srinivas to the Telegraph.
The offending sticker had the first verse of the Koran, which states, “In the name of Allah, the most beneficent, most merciful.”
Gulmarg was brought to a virtual standstill by the demonstrations, with several protesters calling for all foreigners to leave the crowded resort.
By Sunday, the protests had spread to the neighbouring town of Srinagar, as angry Muslims clashed with riot police over the allegedly “sacrilegious” act, according to The Hindu newspaper.
By Monday, however, calm had returned to both towns after a prominent Muslim cleric instructed residents to pardon the Swedish national after he offered an apology for what he deemed an “unintentional” act.
Next time mate, stick to St Christopher or go to Kitzbuhl.

Posted on 02/11/2009 10:24 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Wednesday, 11 February 2009
Interview with Lord Pearson

This (h/t Gates of Vienna) is well worth watching. Only the first few seconds are in Dutch. Lord Pearson is rather posh, even for a lord - I didn't know posh people still said "orf".  Lord Pearson confimrs that Fitna will be shown in Parliament on Thursday with or without Wilders, together with a British film from 1999, Kill or be Killed, which, he says, is even more forthright than Fitna. (How come we never got to see it, then?) There will then be a debate on free speech.


Update: there seems to be a technical problem with this clip. Lord Pearson makes essentially the same points in a joint statement with Baroness Cox (h/t Harry's Place):

Our western society, and indeed the majority of peaceful Muslims, are being intimidated far too much by violent Islamists. On this occasion, the British government is guilty of appeasement.

We do not agree with Geert Wilders that the Koran should be banned – even in Holland where ’Mein Kampf’ is banned. We don’t want it banned but discussed – particularly by the majority Muslim community; and specifically as to whether it may promote or justify - or has promoted or justified - violence. We are therefore promoting freedom of speech.

Geert Wilder’s ‘Fitna’ film (available on the web) is not a threat to anyone. It merely suggests how the Koran has been used by militant Islamists to promote and justify their violence.

They react in fury and menace to our intention to show the film and have boasted that their threats of aggressive demonstrations prevented its previous showing in the Mother of Parliaments. This was not the case – the event was postponed to clarify issues of freedom of speech. The threat of
intimidation in fact increases the justification for the film to be shown and discussed in Parliament and by the British and international press.

Indeed, any alleged threats associated with Lord Ahmed of attempts to prevent the showing of the film would themselves be a confirmation of the film’s message and the need for it to be shown.

The subsequent action by the Home Office to try to deter Mr Wilders from coming to the UK has, we believe, been rightly condemned by the Dutch foreign minister, and is a further example of the appeasement policies of the British government in giving in to the threats of militant Islam.

We intend to show and discuss the film with members of the British Parliament and the press as previously indicated, with or without Mr Wilders.



Posted on 02/11/2009 10:23 AM by Mary Jackson
Wednesday, 11 February 2009
Four Guantanamo prisoners released to Iraq

From the Kuwait Times:

BAGHDAD: Four Iraqi prisoners from the US detention facility at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba have been handed over to the authorities in Baghdad, a Red Cross official said yesterday.

ICRC was informed by the American authorities of the transfer of four Iraqi detainees of Guantanamo to their country on January 18," said a senior International Committee of the Red Cross official in Iraq. "These detainees were visited by the Red Cross when they were in Guantanamo. The ICRC asked the Iraqi authorities to inform them where they are located and to give the opportunity to ICRC to visit them," the official added.

They were released 2 days before the Obama inauguration.  These releases will only increase as he has announced his intention to close Guantanamo.

US President Barack Obama has decided to close the detention centre at the American naval base at Guantanamo, and his Vice President Joe Biden said on Saturday that Washington would ask other countries to take in prisoners.

We will ask others to take responsibility for some of those now at Guantanamo, as we determine to close it," Biden said at security conference in Munich, Germany. Around 60 of the current 245 prisoners might have to be transferred to third countries because they could face the death penalty at home, while others could be tried in US courts.

I knew that several European countries refuse to extradite prisoners who face the death penalty if returned (e.g. Ira Einhorn, Marina Petrella, Mohamed Bacar), but did not know that the U.S. had this policy.  But perhaps it only applies to those other victims of Islamic violence, Islamic terrorists.

Posted on 02/11/2009 9:05 AM by Artemis Gordon Glidden
Wednesday, 11 February 2009
Jobs Human Rights Commissions Won't Do

Cristina Blizzard writes in the Toronto Sun:

There is irony that controversial author Mark Steyn made the trip from New Hampshire to Toronto to call for the dismantling of the Ontario Human Rights Commission.

It's a more than just a long drive from a state whose official motto is, "Live Free or Die." You have to change gears in your mindset.

In this province's oppressive nanny state, we still have the right to free speech -- so long as what you're saying is rubber-stamped by OHRC "commissar" (Steyn's word, not mine) Barbara Hall.

Last year Hall commented on a Maclean's article by Steyn, "The future belongs to Islam." Responding to a complaint by the Canadian Islamic Congress, Hall stated, correctly, the OHRC has no jurisdiction to hear the case. Then she went on to condemn Steyn and Maclean's for Islamophobia.

Steyn was as scathing as ever when he spoke to a committee on government agencies here on Monday.

He described some recent ludicrous OHRC rulings as, "incompatible with a free society."

Of course he is right. And once you allow the Halls of the world to define the limits of freedom of speech, you are heading down a slippery slope. It is vigourous debate that makes a free and civilized society, not timid censorship.

Steyn pointed out the "sham" of the OHRC, when it is shamefully silent about so-called "honour killings." Young women are murdered for not conforming to oppressive cultural restrictions on women. But a journalist with an opinion? Oh, my. Can't have that.

I asked Hall for her response. In a telephone interview, she made some astounding comments.

First, she said, the OHRC has two roles -- a judicial one and one that comments on issues such as the articles. So she was perfectly within her mandate.

"We said the complaint process doesn't apply here.


"We find this series of articles to promote stereotypes and that's harmful and we would like the media to think more about the impact on people of what they write," she said.

Well, sorry. The role of the media is to report, review, criticize, comment. If sometimes we hurt people's feelings, well, oops. This is still a semi-free society.

It was her response to Steyn's criticism of OHRC's silence on honour killings that shocked me.

"There are thousands of things that happen in the province of Ontario on a daily basis and we don't comment on all of them," she said.

But, I spluttered, women are being murdered.

"As I said, we are a small commission.

"There are many problematic things that happen in our community and we have to make choices because we can't respond to everything," Hall said.

So honour killings are merely "problematic"?

Here's a woman who's advocated for years on behalf of women's rights. She found time to crucify Steyn and Maclean's, but she's too busy to raise the issue of women who are being murdered over some hideous interpretation of "honour"? ...

Posted on 02/11/2009 12:39 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Wednesday, 11 February 2009
Churchill Speaks

“[…] You must have diplomatic and correct relations, but there can never be friendship between the British democracy and the Nazi power, that power which spurns Christian ethics, which cheers its onward course by a barbarous paganism, which vaunts the spirit of aggression and conquest, which derives strength and perverted pleasure from persecution, and uses, as we have seen, with pitiless brutality the threat of murderous force. That power cannot ever be the trusted friend of the British democracy.

What I find unendurable is the sense of our country falling into the power, into the orbit and influence of Nazi Germany, and of our existence becoming dependent upon their good will or pleasure. It is to prevent that that I have tried my best […]. It has all been in vain. Every position has been successively undermined and abandoned on specious and plausible excuses..

We do not want to be led upon the high road to becoming a satellite of the German Nazi system of European domination. In a very few years, perhaps in a very few months, we shall be confronted with demands with which we shall no doubt be invited to comply. Those demands may affect the surrender of territory or the surrender of liberty. I foresee and foretell that the policy of submission will carry with it restrictions upon the freedom of speech and debate in Parliament, on public platforms, and discussions in the Press, for it will be said — indeed, I hear it said sometimes now — that we cannot allow the Nazi system of dictatorship to be criticised by ordinary, common English politicians. Then, with a Press under control, in part direct but more potently indirect, with every organ of public opinion doped and chloroformed into acquiescence, we shall be conducted along further stages of our journey.

[…] And do not suppose that this is the end. This is only the beginning of the reckoning. This is only the first sip, the first foretaste of a bitter cup which will be proffered to us year by year unless by a supreme recovery of moral health and martial vigour, we arise again and take our stand for freedom as in the olden time.”

— Sir Winston Churchill; October 5, 1938; House of Commons

(Hat tip: Gates of Vienna)

Posted on 02/11/2009 12:54 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Wednesday, 11 February 2009
Eldad Causes Election Commotion

UMM EL-FAHEM, Feb 10 (Reuters) - Israeli police intervened on Tuesday to prevent a clash between a hardline Jewish legislator and Israeli Arabs, averting violence that could have marred a so far peaceful parliamentary election.

A police spokesman said officers whisked legislator Arieh Eldad of the nationalist Ichud Leumi (National Union) party out of the Arab Israeli town of Umm el-Fahem after "tensions rose" between him and residents, who hurled stones at police.

"Stones were thrown at policemen who were escorting him," said spokesman Micky Rosenfeld.

Police earlier prevented an ultra-nationalist activist, Baruch Marzel, from reaching the Arab town, fearing he would be attacked by residents angry at his calls to expel them from the Jewish state.

Marzel was chosen by his party to exercise its legal right to observe voting in any polling station. Eldad tried to get in after he was turned back.

Anti-Arab sentiment in Israel has been stirred by the rise in the polls of Avigdor Lieberman, whose far-right party says Arabs pose an internal threat to Israel, and those who refuse to swear loyalty to the state should be expelled.

In an election appearance earlier this month, former Israeli army chief medical officer Eldad, handled a snake, telling voters that after serving alongside Arabs in the Knesset (parliament) he was no longer afraid of serpents...

Of course the same thing happens which always happens when Israel holds an election. Nobody knows what happened and it will be few more weeks before we know the outcome.

Posted on 02/11/2009 1:02 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Wednesday, 11 February 2009
Aboriginals oppose Swan Valley mosque

Opposition to Mosques and Islamic schools from Australians descended from settlers is often hushed (or the attempt made) by counters of racism. It will be interesting to see how this develops. From The West Australian.
Plans to build a mosque in the Swan Valley have upset Nyoongar elders who claim the Caversham land is a sacred site and has been protected under the Aboriginal Heritage Act since 1984.  
In a submission to the City of Swan, 45 elders and traditional owners of the area have called on the Bosnian Islamic Society to build their 1277sq m mosque somewhere else “where it will not offend the religious beliefs of the indigenous people and original owners of the Swan Valley”.  
“That section of land is a burial ground, very important to blackfellas. Our people were massacred there,” they say.

Posted on 02/11/2009 2:00 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Wednesday, 11 February 2009
Who will form Israel’s next government?

Yesterday, I organized a radio panel discussion on the Israeli election outcome on WEBY 1330AM- a Florida panhandle talk radio station. On the program were: Ted Belman, Toronto-based editor of the blog Israpundit, Jonathan Schanzer, Washington, DC-based senior analyst at the Jewish Policy Center (JPC) and author of Hamas vs. Fatah: The Struggle for Palestine, Dan Diker, Foreign affairs analyst of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA).   Mike Bates, host of “Your Turn” on WEBY is one of the few pro-Israel and well informed local radio commentators. The panel discussion can be heard on the website of the JPC, here.

The panelists contended that when things shake out, especially with Avigdor Lieberman and Yisrael Beiteinu (“Israel our home”), that Netanyahu may likely lead a right block coalition government. The panel also discussed the implications of the general elections vis a vis the moribund ‘peace process’, the Iranian threat, emerging relations with the Obama Administration, the reactions in the Arab world and the policy shift to Security first, diplomacy second.

The consensus of the panel was that Likud party leader Bibi Netanyahu will form the next Israeli government.  This is despite the closeness of the vote between Kadimah versus Likud (28 versus 27 seats). The ‘right block’, including, Likud and  the third largest party in the polling, Yisrael Beiteinu  and smaller nationalist right wing parties should be able to capture a majority of the Knesset seats, 63, versus the less than the 53 seats for the left block.  I noted that the appeal of Israel our Home, a largely Russian immigrant party, was that it struck a chord with Israeli voters because of increasing evidence of disloyalty among Israeli Arabs.
Dan Diker of the JCPA noted that Labor was crushed in the general election and has announced that it will be in opposition. Further, he said that Tzipi Livni, Kadimah party leader had moved ‘hard left’ and captured votes from Labor and Meretz with a ‘peace party appeal’.  Ted Belman thought that the Israeli election outcome would send a message to the Obama Administration not to waste time, treasure and talent in trying to further an illusory Middle East peace deal, where none exists.

We note that a recent poll in Israel indicated that fully 51% thought a two state solution was “unrealistic”. Jonathan Schanzer, who follows Palestinian developments and the Arab press, noted that Hamas felt there was no difference between the major Israeli parties. Schanzer further said that unless a “Mahatma Gandi or a Nelson Mandela emerges” among the Palestinians,” that a separate state may take 30 to forty years to achieve, given roiling animosities between Fatah and Hamas.   Diker, who had recently spent time in Ramallah said that the older Fatah representatives actually thought the Labor party was a ‘disaster  but were actually favorable toward Netanyahu as he had ‘delivered’ on the status of Hebron and other arrangements during the Wye Plantation Memorandum in 1998. 

On the matter of Iran’s nuclear threat, Belman had noted Netanyahu’s early recognition call for world action. However, Diker said, in response to a question from moderator Mike Bates about a possible unilateral Israeli attack on key Iranian facilities that was unlikely. He noted that the attack would require several sorties, IFF codes from the US to overfly Turley and Iraqi airspace and that even the Bush Administration hadn’t delivered the requisite munitions: bunker busters and ‘mini-nukes’. The implication that a repeat of the successful Osirak reactor raid in June, 1981 was not likely.

When asked by Bates, whether Israel was better off after the recent IDF Operation Cast lead, I noted that the Israeli public probably felt very good about the IDF performance, but that the reality was that the rockets were still falling on Israel and that the smuggling tunnels across the Egyptian border were not destroyed and in full operation. The One Jerusalem blog in a post:Israel Votes: Who Won? Netanyahu and Jerusalemhad this comment on the election results:

In conclusion, the world needs to understand that the people of Israel have forcefully rejected the path of appeasement that led to Hamas firing rockets at Israeli population centers. President Obama are you listening? 
Posted on 02/11/2009 8:39 PM by Jerry Gordon

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