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The Oil Cringe of the West: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J.B. Kelly Vol. 2
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These are all the Blogs posted on Tuesday, 15, 2013.
Tuesday, 15 January 2013
The Corrections

Yet again, for want of the M-word, a journalist falls from an alpha to an alpha minus. Thanks to Christina for tipping me off about a piece from the Israeli English-language blog,This Ongoing War. Correction is easy -- do a global find and replace of "Palestinian" with "Muslim" and you're pretty much there. The piece, by two Israeli Jews, formerly from Australia, is called Like An Alien Planet. As Christina says, it's Planet Islam, alas not worlds enough away:

Imagine you came down from another planet and learned, for the first time, about a people who claim their national path to autonomy and self-fulfillment requires honoring the cold-blooded murderers who are central to their historical tradition (a certain neighbourhood politician did this recently; we posted about him on Thursday: "11-Jan-13: When pundits or commentators next tell us Israel must relax its anti-terrorism measures, here is what they are hiding or ignoring").

Imagine further that this people credits its strength and resilience to the fact that it belongs to a mighty and united brotherhood of nations (see Fayyad: "We plead with our brothers etc"). Imagine, as well, that this nation blames all of its suffering on the efforts of one hated and specific other people.

But you have not just arrived  from another planet. And you are visiting this site. So chances are you understand we mean the Palestinian Muslim Arabs.

Good, because now it's time to think about cognitive dissonance.

Why? Because the war of terrorism conducted by the Arabs Muslims in our part of the world has been an existential factor for generations, reaching well back into the nineteenth century. Explanations for why it continues well into the twenty-first century are not in short supply. But on the whole we think they baffle more than they clarify. In a few brief paragraphs, here's how we come to that view.

First, let's note how closely tied the Palestinian Muslim Arabs are by genes, marriage and blood to the world's most super-wealthy statelets and countries. Plainly, this has failed to generate anything like the kind of spill-over prosperity one might conceivably expect. The misery of most Palestinian Muslim Arabs is visible and manifest. Understanding why this is so seems to depend on where you stand on the political and social spectra, though really (we say) it should not.

In terms of charitable donations and aid given to them during the past decade at least (see reports by the authoritative US Insitute of Peace and Wikipedia), they are the single largest per capita recipients of international development assistance in the world. This is a non-trivial observation, in an era in which oceans of money are fed into global aid programs. Yet those torrents of cash pouring into the always-open, Palestinian Muslim Arab collective palm never ever seem to make any impact on their lack of resources, industry,  basic facilities and upwards-traction. The money has failed to create industrial parks, scientific centers or even impactful writers who have managed to rise about the morass. Foreign aid does not seem to alleviate any of the disadvantage and profound national unhappiness that, as anyone who reads Palestinian Muslim self-promotions knows, goes on and on and on and on. (But never say it lacks an effect. Effects it certainly does have.)

Pan-Arab Ummah conferences and initiatives based on the theme of "the Palestinian Muslims who live near Israel are our brothers" keep happening. Yet the funding of the one, single, most important means of keeping their bodies and souls together - we refer to UNRWA - continues to be provided overwhelmingly by... non-Arab Muslim sources. When you ponder that for a moment, it's simply incredible. We quoted the actual numbers in a our blog nearly a year ago (see "20-Feb-12: Strategically, what is the most striking aspect of Israel's response to the ceaseless rocket attacks from that nest of terrorist vipers, the Gaza Strip?"). We wrote at that time:

If UNRWA's work is so important, if it brings us closer to peace, if it restores dignity to the lives of dispossessed and destitute Arabs Muslims, then why, when you look at the top twenty list of donors to this agency that exists entirely from donations do you see that only one is Arab Muslim? In 2010, the most recent year for which we can find reliable data, that Arab Muslim donation (Islamic Development Bank) comes in at number 19. Australia gave three times as much... [more]

[...]


The Palestinian oil-poor Muslim government in Ramallah understands doesn't understand the roots of its ongoing poverty, namely Islam, and but does see the yawning gap between the capabilities unearned, Western-technology-generated wealth of their oil-rich Muslim cousins and their results that arrive in their Ramallah mail box. This December 2012 news report notes 
Arab countries agreed in their Baghdad summit for an Arab safety net of $100 million dollars each month [for the Ramallah government], but unfortunately none of this has been achieved yet... Palestinian were cheered by a strong majority in the U.N. recognizing them as an "observer state," but have struggled to get Arab support to make up $100 million in shortfalls left by Israeli sanctions following the U.N. move [more].   
Concerning that "hated people" trope we mentioned above, we want to mention some minor reports from this week's news. Soldiers of an explicitly-religious IDF battalion called Netzah Yehuda (part of the army's Kfir brigade) undertook a rescue operation in the fierce winter storm that has been affecting this area all week. This happened on Wednesday, and resulted in three Palestinian Muslim Arab men being rescued before the fierce currents washed them away near the Nablus River where they were among several carloads of people stranded with their drivers trapped in a constantly intensifying current. Ynet says "The storm was too severe for helicopters to arrive at the scene, and the battalion commander resorted to utilizing a Palestinian's tractor that was passing by." The company commander is interviewed [here] on how - not why, since every Israeli understands why you try to save a drowning person - his men accomplished the rescue. You can see some video coverage of the rescue here and (for Hebrew speakers) here. Also in this past week's unusually stormy weather, IDF soldiers rescued a school bus carrying 30 Palestinian Muslim Arab children near the PA-controlled city of Jenin [report].

For some inexplicable reason, Maan, a Palestinian Muslim news agency that seems to be on top of almost everything happening over here, missed these news items.

But we understand: rescuing people in danger is not the kind of thing that gets other people to change their deeply ingrained prejudices. We're not suggesting they happen (or are reported) for their political effect. They simply happen to be part of the mosaic of mundane life events in this turbulent part of the world. But what to us is extraordinary is they way they get inverted by people with hostile agendas (small examples here and here) to stand for something wicked.

So we think it's valid to occasionally point readers to websites like Israel21CKeren Malki and Save a Child's Heart, among many others, that throw some light on the essentially one-way nature of Arab feelings of revulsion, and gives them a context. At the same time, we're not embarrassed to remind readers yet again that when Palestinian Arabs are in mortal danger, as we mentioned above concerning Syria, the general Arab Muslim reaction, and the specifically Jordanian Muslim reaction (another reminder: more than half of the Jordanians call themselves Palestinians) is nothing less than astonishing.
Sometimes you get the sense that all of this must be taking place on another planet where people think and act in ways that are totally strange and incomprehensible to the rest of us. Welcome to the Arab/Israel conflict and this ongoing war. Islam and Jihad.
Posted on 01/15/2013 6:29 AM by Mary Jackson
Tuesday, 15 January 2013
Gang of men 'groomed vulnerable Oxford girls as young as 11 for sex before beating them with meat cleavers and baseball bats'

I fear that this case, which began yesterday at the Central Criminal Court Old Bailey, is going to be the worst so far prosecuted.  From the Daily Mail  

A gang of nine men groomed and horrifically abused vulnerable girls from the age of 11 making their lives a 'living hell', a court heard today.

The men, all from Oxford, allegedly plied six girls with alcohol, cocaine and heroin before repeatedly raping them. They are accused of subjecting them to 'extreme physical and sexual violence', often beating and burning them as they raped their victims.

Kamar Jamil, 27, Akthtar Dogar, 32, Anjum Dogar, 30, Assad Hussain, 32, Mohammed Karrar, 38, Bassam Karrar, 26, Mohammed Hussain, 24, Zeeshan Ahmed, 27, and Bilal Ahmed, 26, deny the charges against them.

Karrar and other men not before the court is accused of using an instrument on one of the victims when she was 11 or 12 to force a miscarriage after she became pregnant.

The trial heard how there were many more potential abusers in addition to those in the dock. It took almost half an hour for all the charges to be read to the jury. Telephone evidence between the accused and the victims will be presented along with DNA evidence.

Prosecutor Noel Lucas QC said: 'The evidence will show that these girls were targeted precisely because they were young. Much of what the girls were forced to endure was perverted in the extreme. The depravity of what the girls were forced to endure was extreme.'

The men took the girls to towns and cities across the country where they suffered further sexual abuse by other men. The abuse is alleged to have taken place over a period of eight years. Mr Lucas told the jury of seven men and five women at the Old Bailey to 'steel yourself' for the evidence they were to hear.

The court was told the men had 'actively targeted vulnerable young girls from the age of about 11 or 12.' Mr Lucas pointed out to the jury that the girls who were targeted by the men were children.

He said the men would came across the girls with 'troubled upbringings' and 'unsettled homes' when they were out drinking or playing truant. The girls were in care homes. What care????  'There is evidence that the men deliberately targeted children that were out of control.'

The men would 'exploit their vulnerability' knowing it was less likely that anyone would be 'exercising any normal parental control over them or looking out for them.' They groomed the girls by giving gifts 'or simply showing the care and attention that they craved.'

The jury was told the girls were taken to hotels, guest houses or people's homes for other men to have sex with them. The men would guard the girls so they could not escape and would then be paid for providing the girls.

Men would travel to Oxford 'often by appointment' from as far afield as Bradford, Leeds, London and Slough 'specifically to abuse young girls'. Sometimes the girls were taken to towns and cities such as London and Bournemouth.

Mr Lucas said the men would inflict 'extreme physical and sexual violence on the girls' using knives, meat cleavers and baseball bats. They were 'humiliated and degraded' bitten, scratched suffocated, tied up beaten and burnt. Sometimes the abuse would go on for 'days on end'.

It is claimed the men also threatened the girls and their families if they should try to 'free themselves from the grasp of the group'.

The trial continues.

Posted on 01/15/2013 7:18 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Tuesday, 15 January 2013
What's the point of the Gay Games?

Whatever they are, they may be coming to London. From UK Eurosport, although I originally saw the story behind the Apartheid Paywall of the Sunday Times:

Some of the sporting venues which became familiar during the sporting summer could be re-used – including Horse Guards Parade for beach volleyball – according to reports.

The Sunday Times story specified Lesbian Beach Volleyball, which sounds like a peep show.

London would be up against Paris, Orlando, Rio de Janeiro, Amsterdam and Limerick in the race to host the event, but if reports that Johnson has secured key venues such as the Olympic Stadium for the bid prove true London would have a strong advantage.

The Games, which are held every four years, would be expected to attract around 12,000 participants from 70 nations. Having begun in San Francisco in 1982, its next staging in 2014 will be in Cleveland, Ohio.

“There should be no limit to London’s legacy ambitions,” the Mayor said. “The capital’s bid to host the Gay Games in 2018 is another example of that drive. 2012 has given us the belief to build a positive cornucopia of world-class sporting events.”

“The UK is currently bidding for the Gay Games in 2018 in London,” added David Cameron, “which could give us something to cheer on that year, and I wish them every luck.”

David Cameron will say anything to make the Tories look modern, but Boris? The same Boris who once said he liked homosexuals because it left more rampant totty for real men like himself. Well, something like that:

“I don’t understand homophobia myself,” he tells attitude, the gay magazine. “Mathematically, in the great race of life, homosexual people have ruled themselves out of women, so what’s not to like?”

According to The Sunday Times (limited quoting):

Jo Swinson, the equalities minister, said: “I have always been a passionate supporter of sport being open to everyone and I am wholeheartedly behind the bid to host the Gay Games in London in 2018.

But they are not open to everyone, only to gays. Why, and indeed how? How do you throw a discus or a javelin in a gay way? And who can be in them? Are you allowed if you once had a schoolgirl crush on the games mistress? Is the Fosbury Flop compulsory? Must you bat for the other side?

The best sportsmen and women seem to have got by without Gay Games. Indeed Martina Navratilova used to win in straight sets.

Posted on 01/15/2013 8:32 AM by Mary Jackson
Tuesday, 15 January 2013
What is the point of Mary Seacole?

She's not even black, at least not as black as she is painted. Rod Liddle in The Spectator:

Isn’t it time, just out of perversity, that we all signed the petition on the Operation Black Vote website to restore the part-time nurse Mary Seacole to the national curriculum? I am beginning to think that our children should learn all about this entertaining woman; she’s given me a good laugh for the last dozen or so years, ever since she was dredged up as an icon by the deluded and hysterical liberal-left.

After all, if Mary is not restored to the curriculum, kids will be pestering us to know why so many buildings in this country are named after her. The University of Salford, the University of Birmingham and Brunel all have outposts bearing the name of this mysterious woman, along with a bunch of nursing centres and, inexplicably, part of the Home Office. It is quite possible that many of these edifices were originally named after Winnie Mandela — before she started putting burning tyres around the necks of her political opponents. You don’t see many Winnie Mandela council blocks any more. Those necklaces were a bit too much.

But maybe OBV is right: we should tell our children the whole story; it will be an object lesson in the imbecility and absolutism of a certain section of the ethnic left, not least its wish to revel in perpetual victimhood. And a sort of weird inversion of anti-racism; that somebody should be considered important solely as a consequence of the colour of their skin. It is tempting to say that if Mary Seacole had been white then the people at Operation Black Vote wouldn’t have given a monkey’s about her either way. But that ignores the final paradox: she was white. Three quarters white. In her own words, only a little brown. And yet the campaigners will not accept this. Black: the woman was black, definitely, they howl, and to ignore her blackness is redolent of colonialism and prejudice and oppression and drinking taps for whites only and Love Thy Neighbour etc etc.

Rarely have we seen exalted a more misplaced, misappropriated god than poor old Seacole. Rarely has a campaign been willing to swallow so much utter tosh in order to advance its cause — and all achieved with the patronising connivance of well-meaning but vacuous white liberals.

The Education Secretary, Michael Gove, has decided that children should no longer be taught about Mrs Seacole, presumably because her contribution to history was minuscule, though largely benevolent. She helped out a bit in the Crimean War, which was kind of her. She showed a certain bravery in travelling, sometimes at her own expense, to far-flung places in order to minister to our armed forces. She seems to have been a familiar mixture of the magnanimous and the self-advancing — her autobiography makes all sorts of absurd claims which only the people who run Operation Black Vote would be stupid enough to believe. Florence Nightingale — who, as a consequence of her skin colour the OBV people seem to despise, unless they just don’t like lamps — was critical of Seacole for her habit of giving wounded servicemen alcohol. I think I’m with Seacole on this, by the way, and I don’t think we should hold this against her. She helped, she was kind and perhaps even altruistic. But an important actor from Britain’s most gilded century? Nah, not a chance. And a role model for black British youngsters? Hell no. There is nothing wrong with nursing as a profession, but wouldn’t we rather have our kids aspiring to be Isambard Kingdom Brunel or George Stephenson — or better still, Michael Faraday? All of them were only slightly less black than Mary who, like Faraday, was at least part-Scottish.

If OBV continues its obsession with skin colour, we could always black up some of those old Victorian portraits to keep them happy. Why should black kids be coerced into venerating someone simply because of their skin colour? Isn’t that exactly the sort of thing we could do without? The campaigners seem to wish to keep these children ghettoised, defined by characteristics which it is beyond their power to alter. There is nothing good about being black. There is nothing good about being white, either.

Anyway, old Gove has now got to contend with a fusillade of illiterate abuse from the OBV people. ‘A blatant racist decision from a Conservative fascist,’ one halfwit insists. Another suggests that the blessed Michael is ‘scared of what she (Seacole) represents’. What, scared of a fallacy? A third communicant to this hilarious website — which, incidentally, serves as a pretty damning indictment of our schools all by itself, to judge by the grammar of those who use it — asserts that Gove is unqualified to make the decision to remove Seacole from the curriculum, because he himself has not served as a nurse during wartime, and definitely not during the Crimean War. That’s a very valuable point and one I hope that Michael will take on board.

In the meantime, put her back on the curriculum. But take her out of history classes and put her somewhere else, some place where they learn about our present society and how it came to be so brain-damaged. Let the kids marvel at how a nice woman who wasn’t really very black came to be revered as a black icon because, unsurprisingly, given the make-up of British society prior to the 1950s, they couldn’t find anyone else.

A little blackness goes a long way. Half=white President Obama seems to garner the black vote and the white liberal vote. Yet sometimes the paintbrush works the other way round. From a Gates of Vienna post:

Christians are generally considered “liturgically white” for the purposes of the MSM, and may be treated as such, regardless of their color. Muslims of any race are, of course, “brown”.

Atheists are white too, if they speak against Islam. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, for example, is not vibrant at all, and her skin is alabaster:

File:Ayaan-Hirsi-Ali-VVD.NL-1200x1600.JPG

Still, who cares if she's black or white, as long as she's read all over.

Posted on 01/15/2013 9:06 AM by Mary Jackson
Tuesday, 15 January 2013
Only Now Do Morsi's Antisemitic Rants Get Attention?

1

Video emerges of Egyptian leader Morsi blasting Jews, Zionists in 2010

Strange to see Morsi's 2010 rants about Jews and Israel, which once they appeared at www.MEMRITV.org, wereput up at this website, and at others, now apparently getting wide attention.

And so they should. And so should their source -- in Qur'an, Hadith, and Sira. And then those who presume to protect and instruct us should begin by cutting all Infidel aid to Egypt, now ruled by the Muslim Brotherhood whose views on Infidels, not only Jews but also  Christians, and of course those who do not even attain to the condition of the People of the Book, Ahl al-Kitab, but as Hindus, Buddhists, and so on deserve even worse, even more hate-filled enmity from all good Muslims, cannot bear, that is most certainly bear --  very pretty, that epanorthosis --  looking into.

Posted on 01/15/2013 12:15 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 15 January 2013
A Musical Interlude: Sam The Old Accordion Man (Ruth Etting)
Listen here.
Posted on 01/15/2013 12:42 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 15 January 2013
French Unsentimentality Shows Up The Naive Miscalculations Of The Obama Administration

From lefigaro.fr:

Les Américains paient leurs mauvais calculs au Sahel

Par Laure Mandeville Mis à jour Réactions (82)
À l'automne, Susan Rice, l'ambassadrice américaine à l'ONU, avait affirmé que le plan soutenu par la France au Conseil de sécurité était «de la m…».
À l'automne, Susan Rice, l'ambassadrice américaine à l'ONU, avait affirmé que le plan soutenu par la France au Conseil de sécurité était «de la m…». Crédits photo : © Jim Young / Reuters/REUTERS

Washington se retrouve pris à contre-pied par l'intervention rapide de la France pour arrêter l'insurrection islamiste dans le nord du Mali.

Correspondante à Washington

Même si, selon les diplomates, l'heure est à la «consultation permanente» entre les deux rives de l'Atlantique sur le dossier malien, les Américains se retrouvent pris à contre-pied par l'intervention rapide et dénuée d'hésitations de la France pour arrêter l'insurrection islamiste dans le nord du Mali. «Il y a certainement à Washington un soutien et un vrai soulagement de voir les Français prendre l'initiative, vu l'urgence d'agir», note la directrice du programme Afrique au Centre pour les études stratégiques et internationales, Jennifer Cooke.

S'exprime même, notamment chez les néoconservateurs, un coup de chapeau à ces Français qui savent encore se comporter en «gendarmes de crise» et y aller (contrairement à l'Administration Obama, sous-entendent-ils). Mais l'action rapide de la France et les derniers développements sur le terrain jettent a contrario une lumière crue sur les naïvetés, les mauvais calculs et les échecs récents des Américains dans une région sahélienne où ils avaient massivement investi ces dernières années.

Depuis des mois, les États-Unis freinaient activement le déploiement des troupes de la Cédéao réclamées par le gouvernement malien, au motif que l'opération n'était pas suffisamment préparée. L'ambassadrice américaine à l'ONU, Susan Rice, avait carrément affirmé à l'automne que le plan soutenu par la France au Conseil de sécurité était «de la m…»

Un consensus avait finalement été trouvé à l'arraché en décembre pour voter une résolution autorisant le déploiement d'une force africaine. Mais Washington persistait à préconiser la lenteur, appelant à des élections préalables, le gouvernement malien étant issu d'un putsch… Ils s'inquiétaient d'une intervention trop ostentatoire, susceptible d'attirer vers le Mali les djihadistes du monde entier et de susciter une recrudescence d'actes terroristes en Occident. «Ces inquiétudes restent valides, mais le terrain a dicté d'agir différemment», reconnaît Jennifer Cooke, qui ne serait pas étonnée de voir les Français «forcés de jouer un rôle de premier plan plus longtemps que prévu».

Les Américains avaient fortement investi dans la formation de l'armée malienne, dans le cadre d'une ambitieuse politique de contre-terrorisme dans la région Sahel. Près de 600 millions de dollars avaient été consacrés par Washington à entraîner les militaires locaux, recrutés notamment dans les tribus touarègues. Mais cet effort de formation a été réduit à néant par la défection massive d'unités ralliées à l'insurrection islamiste. Un officier formé par les militaires américains a organisé un putsch contre le pouvoir civil, à la stupéfaction des États-Unis qui n'avaient apparemment rien vu venir, notait lundi le New York Times. L'été dernier, le général Carter Ham, en charge du commandement Afrique, avait évoqué «sa déception amère».

À la demande des Français, les Américains fournissent maintenant une aide logistique et se préparent à envoyer des drones de renseignements sur le terrain. Mais Washington, qui s'apprête à sortir plus vite que prévu de la longue campagne afghane et rumine encore ses faux pas maliens, exclut pour l'instant toute participation directe à l'opération de la France, forcée à un solo impromptu et risqué.

Posted on 01/15/2013 12:47 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 15 January 2013
Martin Kramer: Chuck Hagel, Who Hears What He Wants To Hear, And Wilfully Misunderstands The Middle East (And Muslims)

From The Weekly Standard:

Chuck Hagel and Linkage

Jan 15, 2013 • By MARTIN KRAMER

Former Nebraska senator Chuck Hagel is President Obama’s nominee for secretary of defense. Much has already been said about the pros and cons of the nomination, and much more will be said during confirmation hearings in the Senate. Here is one possible line of questioning: given the centrality of the Middle East in U.S. military planning, how does Hagel think the region works? If the United States has limited resources, and must apportion them judiciously, where is it best advised to invest them?

Hagel has a view of this, expressed on numerous occasions. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the core problem of the Middle East. Until it is resolved, it will be impossible to make progress in treating any of the region’s other pathologies. Hagel claims to have reached this conclusion by talking with leaders of the Middle East. He’s just repeating what they tell him, he has said. So it’s interesting to go back and see just what they did tell him—an exercise made feasible via WikiLeaks. (If you belong to that class of persons who have to avert their eyes from WikiLeaks, don’t follow the links and take my word.)

The Core Conflict

But first, let’s look at how Hagel thinks the Middle East works. In 2002, he put it this way:

The Arab-Israeli conflict cannot be separated from America’s foreign policy. Actions in the Middle East have immense consequences for our other policies and interests in the world. We are limited in dealing with other conflicts until this conflict is on a path to resolution. America’s policy and role in the Middle East, and the perception of our policies and role across the globe, affects our policies and interests in Afghanistan, South Asia, Indonesia, and all parts of the world.

This is a broad exposition of the idea of “linkage,” which might best be described as a Middle Eastern domino theory. The assumption is that in places as far afield as Afghanistan and Indonesia, people are so preoccupied with the fate of the Palestinians that they cannot see the United States (which supports Israel) as a friend. These millions of people have their own conflicts that impact U.S. interests, but they won’t respond to American efforts to resolve them, unless the United States conjures up something for the Palestinians first. Often this claim is made regarding the Arabs. Hagel effectively extended it to the entire Muslim world.

In 2006, Hagel put it this way:

The core of all challenges in the Middle East remains the underlying Arab-Israeli conflict. The failure to address this root cause will allow Hezbollah, Hamas, and other terrorists to continue to sustain popular Muslim and Arab support—a dynamic that continues to undermine America’s standing in the region and the Governments of Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and others, whose support is critical for any Middle East resolution.

The vocabulary here—”core,” “root cause,” “underlying”—is taken from the standard linkage lexicon, which elevates the Arab-Israeli or Palestinian-Israeli conflict to a preeminent status, above all others. It is this conflict, practically alone, that prompts the rise of terrorists, weakens friendly governments, and makes it impossible for the United States to win Arabs and Muslims over to the good cause. That same year, he again described the “underlying” Arab-Israeli conflict as the “core” of the region’s maladies:

In the Middle East, the core of instability and conflict is the underlying Arab-Israeli problem. Progress on Middle East peace does not ensure stability in Iraq. But, for the Arab world, the issue of Middle East peace is inextricably, emotionally and psychologically linked with all other issues. Until the United States helps lead a renewed Israeli-Palestinian peace process, there will be no prospect for broader Middle East peace and stability.

In 2008, Hagel developed this into a full-blown “ripple” theory, in a passage in his book, America: Our Next Chapter (p. 82). There he wrote that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

cannot be looked at in isolation. Like a stone dropped into a placid lake, its ripples extend out farther and farther. Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon feel the effects most noticeably. Farther still, Afghanistan and Pakistan; anything that impacts their political stability also affects the two emerging economic superpowers, India and China.

The notion that the greater Middle East would be a “placid lake” were it not for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can only be regarded as extreme, even for someone in the grip of linkage fever. But Hagel, doubling down, extended the conflict’s baleful influence even beyond the world of the Arabs and South Asian Islam, suggesting that it “affects” India and China in a detrimental way, although he didn’t explain how.

That same year, Hagel made the most far-reaching claim for linkage. By this time, Americans knew considerably more about the complexities of the Middle East than they had known in 2002. Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq had demonstrated the salience of deep conflicts that defined the politics of the region, and that went back in time before there was an Israel. The great Sunni-Shiite divide, the region-wide Kurdish question, the rivalries of tribes, the chasm between rulers and ruled—all were sources of conflict and instability with long and autonomous histories. That’s what makes Hagel’s 2008 statement so striking: he was clearly aware that the linkage thesis looked shakier than ever, but he dug in his heels anyway:

The strategic epicenter of the Middle East [is] the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Why do I say that more than any other reason? It is the one issue, the one issue alone, the Israeli-Palestinian issue alone. Fixing that alone is not going to fix every problem in the Middle East. We understand that. We have religious hatred. We have centuries of it. We have regional, tribal issues. Yes, all complicated. But that one issue, the Israeli-Palestinian issue shapes almost every other issue, not just the optics of it, but the reality of it. It is allowed to—as it plays itself out to dominate relationships, to dominate the people who would like a different kind of world. I know that there is a lot made on the issue of—well it’s important, but it certainly doesn’t affect everything. It does.

In this remark, Hagel was clearly struggling to force all of the new and “complicated” American knowledge about the Middle East into his old template. He knew that his linkage thesis looked less plausible than it once did. How exactly could the Israeli-Palestinian issue “affect everything” and “shape almost every other issue,” not just the “optics” but the “reality”? Hagel couldn’t say how, except to assert that “it does.”

But Hagel, knowing his bald assertion might seem dubious, did something new. He invoked the authority of Middle Eastern leaders:

I don’t know any other way to gauge this, than you go out and listen to the leaders. You listen to Jewish leaders, and you listen to Arab leaders. You sit down with all the leaders with all those countries, and I have many times, different leaders, and they will take you right back to the same issue. Right back to this issue. Now I am not an expert on anything, and I’m certainly not an expert on the Middle East. Most of the people in this room, especially those that were on the panels tonight know a lot more about this issue than I do. But I do listen. I do observe. I am somewhat informed. That informs me that when the people of the Middle East themselves tell me that this issue has to be dealt with or there will not be a resolution to any other issue in the Middle East.

No other issue in the entire Middle East can be resolved until Israel and the Palestinians deal with theirs: this was Hagel’s long-standing belief, now placed in the mouths of authoritative interlocutors, those Middle Eastern leaders he met on his travels, and who always took him “right back to this issue.”

Meeting Arabs and Jews

On the face of it, this is a plausible assertion. It is often said that Arab leaders never miss an opportunity to browbeat American officials over U.S. neglect of the Palestinians. A senior American diplomatic once made this complaint: “Every American ambassador in the region knows that official meetings with Arab leaders start with the obligatory half-hour lecture on the Palestinian question. If we could dispense with that half-hour and get down to our other business, we might actually be able to get something done.”

But are these the sorts of discussions that Hagel had with Arab leaders? We don’t have a record of all his meetings with them, but we have several accounts, via WikiLeaks. These seem to contradict Hagel’s own assertion that his Arab interlocutors always came “right back to this issue.” In fact, it was usually the third or fourth item on the agenda, sometimes raised not by Arab leaders but by visiting Americans. Arab leaders who met Hagel expressed a very wide range of concerns, usually focused on Iran and Iraq. (There is one important exception, to which I’ll come in a moment.) Here are the publicly documented instances, from his trips to the region between 2004 and 2008:

— On December 1, 2004, King Abdullah of Jordan had lunch in Amman with Hagel (as well as Senators Joe Biden, Dianne Feinstein, and Linc Chafee). The account may not be complete, but the discussion as reported focused only on Iraq and the “negative role” of Iran. King Abdullah, looking ahead to Iraqi elections in January, “worried that elections held without credible Sunni participation could lead to cantonization or civil war,” and opined that Iraqi Shiites were loyal to Iran, not Iraq. “The King painted a picture of a monolithic Shia Arab/Iranian threat to Jordan and Israel if they ‘take over’ southern Iraq.” (A few days later, King Abdullah said much the same in an interview with The Washington Post, coining the phrase “Shiite crescent” to describe the menace.)

— On December 4, 2004, the Crown Prince of Bahrain, Sheikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, received Hagel, Feinstein, and Chafee. The conversation also focused on impending elections in Iraq, which the Bahrainis feared might be captured by “radical elements.” Later, Feinstein raised the Israeli-Palestinian issue, urging Bahrain and Gulf governments to “speak out on the need for a two-state solution in Palestine in order to ostracize extremists on both sides and bring the Arab media on board.” Sheikh Salman gently deflected this, suggesting that the United States, “even if politically difficult, must engage in a public discourse that demonstrates that the goal of promoting democracy in the Middle East includes Palestinians as well.” So it wasn’t the Arab ruler who “came back to the issue,” but a peace-process-fixated American senator—an effort artfully foiled by Sheikh Salman.

— A meeting in Amman with Jordan’s King Abdullah on November 29, 2005 was dominated again by Iran and Iraq. (Attending: Hagel, Senator Tom Carper and Representative Ellen Tauscher.) The monarch, still in his “Shiite crescent” mode, expressed his fear that Iran would establish its dominance over Iraq: “If this influence was not checked, he warned, it could lead to effective Iranian rule of southern Iraq, and to an even more active and dangerous Hizballah in Lebanon.” King Abdullah’s second concern: Syria, where he speculated that too much pressure on the Assad regime could lead to a “possible takeover of the country by the Muslim Brotherhood”—which, “the king warned, would be very negative for both Syria and the region.” Israel and the Palestinians? This figured as the third item on the agenda. In this case, Abdullah didn’t “warn” about anything, but simply highlighted Jordan’s commitment to train and reform Palestinian security forces, Jordan’s interest in more economic cooperation with the Palestinian Authority, and a vague hope that there might be an “increased dynamism” in Israel, as a result of changes in the Labor Party.

— Hagel (and Carper and Tauscher) met with Saudi King Abdullah, then-Crown Prince Sultan, and Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal, in Riyadh on November 30, 2005. Again, the top agenda issues were Iraq followed by Iran. Hagel would later go on the record as opposing the 2007 “surge” in Iraq (“the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam”). But in 2005, when Hagel asked the Saudis about a U.S. troop withdrawal, King Abdullah “urged the U.S. not to withdraw forces or lose focus until Iraq was stabilized,” and the Saudi foreign minister added that “the U.S. should consider increasing troop levels in the short term to ensure the political process concludes successfully.” Only after a lengthy discussion of Iran did they get on to Israel and the Palestinians. Prince Sultan explained the various Saudi peace proposals, and praised Israel’s then-prime minister Ariel Sharon as “a clever and courageous man” who might “move in a direction which serves Israel and the Israeli people.” (This section of the dispatch carried the headline: “Sharon as Peacemaker: Saudis Surprisingly Pragmatic.”) Hagel later would claim that lack of a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict “undermines” the Saudi (and other pro-American) governments. But he didn’t hear that from the Saudis, who in their 2005 meeting with him treated the issue as a mid-level priority.

— On December 4, 2005, Hagel (accompanied by the U.S. ambassador to Egypt) met with Egyptian President Mubarak in Cairo. At the top of the agenda: the threat posed by the prospect of Shiite ascendency in Iraq. “In Mubarak’s view, the Shi’a were extremely difficult to deal with and given to deception,” and they represented a potential Iranian fifth column in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and other Gulf states. Second: Syria, where he advised the United States to “avoid stating publicly that it sought ‘regime change.’” It was Hagel who raised the Palestinian-Israel issue, thanking Egypt for supporting the peace process. Mubarak responded by calling Ariel Sharon, “a strong leader, the strongest since Begin,” and he went on to blame Syria’s late leader, Hafez Assad, for failing to reach a peace deal with Yitzhak Rabin. Mubarak then circled back to “the untrustworthiness and duplicity of the regime in Tehran,” with illustrative examples. In this conversation, it was Hagel, not Mubarak, who had “come right back” to the Israeli-Palestinian issue.

— On May 31, 2007, Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora received Hagel (as well as Senators Patrick Leahy, Thad Cochran, Ken Salazar, Ben Cardin, and Representative Peter Welch). The prime minister dwelt at length on the U.N. resolution establishing the Hariri tribunal (it “meant the end of an era of impunity for assassins and Lebanon would now never turn back”). He then gave a detailed preview of the army’s plan to crush the terrorist group Fatah al-Islam, holed up in the Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr al-Barid near Tripoli. Siniora did urge the United States to persuade Israel to open talks based on the Saudi peace initiative. If the opportunity were missed, “it would give considerable momentum to extremists in the region and all that entailed.”

— On July 20, 2008, the Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al Sabah, received Hagel (as well as Senator Barack Obama). The conversation focused Iraq, oil prices, and Aljazeera. Israel and the Palestinians weren’t discussed.

So in none of these meetings was there a preliminary half-hour lecture on Palestine. In most of them, the threat posed by Iran loomed larger than any angst over the absence of an Israeli-Palestinian agreement. Looking back at these meetings in 2008, Hagel claimed that “the people of the Middle East themselves tell me that this issue has to be dealt with or there will not be a resolution to any other issue in the Middle East.” In none of these meetings did any Arab leader tell Hagel any such thing.

Hagel didn’t just claim to get the linkage message from Arab leaders. “You listen to Jewish leaders, and you listen to Arab leaders.” By “Jewish,” he must have meant Israeli (an elision he has made elsewhere, in his well-known reference to the “Jewish lobby”). Hagel has met many Israelis, and only he and they know what they told him. But on at least one occasion, he heard one of them brusquely dismiss the linkage argument. Hagel (and Senator Biden) met with then-prime minister Ariel Sharon in December 2004, and one of the Americans in the delegation (unnamed in the dispatch) had the temerity to suggest that “progress towards Israeli-Palestinian peace would have a dramatic impact on ending regional and international terrorism. Sharon quickly stated that Israel should not be held responsible for terrorism, asserting that it was the target of terror even prior to June 1967. It was not correct to believe that terror would disappear if the Israeli-Palestinian dispute were solved. The only thing that Israel was ‘responsible’ for, he maintained, was defending its people.” If “Jewish leaders” told Hagel anything that reinforced his thesis, Ariel Sharon definitely was not among them.

Neither was his successor, Ehud Olmert, who told Hagel (and several other senators) in May 2007 that Arab fear of Iran had created a situation where, “for the first time, we are not enemy number one.” On that same visit, then-foreign minister Tzipi Livni told the senatorial delegation that “there was a new understanding in the region that the Iranian threat is an ‘existential’ one and has become more significant than the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

Abdullah of Jordan: Linkage Man

In Hagel’s meetings (as revealed in the WikiLeaks sample), there is one exception—one meeting in which an Arab leader said something approximating what Hagel claimed they all told him. In Hagel’s meetings with King Abdullah in 2004 and 2005, he heard little about the Palestinians, and a lot about the “Shiite crescent” and a possible Iranian takeover of southern Iraq. But in a meeting in Amman in May 2007 with Hagel (plus Leahy, Cochran, Salazar, Cardin, and Welch), the Jordanian monarch did a turnaround. King Abdullah “highlighted his view that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is the key issue facing Jordan and the region.” He claimed that “within as little as one and a half years the opportunity for a two-state solution may be lost.” Jordanian then-foreign minister Abdelelah al-Khatib told the visiting senators that “lack of progress on peace was undermining efforts on other issues such as stabilizing Iraq, Lebanon, and isolating Syria and Iran.”

Why did King Abdullah change his tune? Thanks to the U.S. “surge” in Iraq, he’d come to believe that Iran had been checked. In June 2008, Lally Weymouth interviewed him for The Washington Post. “I remember a couple of years ago, you warned against the danger posed by Iran to moderate Arab regimes,” she told him. “Do you view Iran as the number one threat in this region?” King Abdullah: “I think the lack of peace [between Israel and the Palestinians] is the major threat. I don’t see the ability of creating a two-state solution beyond 2008, 2009. I think this is really the last chance. If this fails, I think this is going to be the major threat for the Middle East.” Weymouth: “But aren’t you concerned that Iran is a threat both to your country and to other countries in the region?” Abdullah: “Iran poses issues to certain countries, although I have noticed over the past month or so that the dynamics have changed quite dramatically, and for the first time I think maybe I can say that Iran is less of a threat. But if the peace process doesn’t move forward, then I think that extremism will continue to advance over the moderate stands that a lot of countries take.”

So Jordan’s King Abdullah became the linkage lead man, and it’s not difficult to see why. Jordan is the Arab state that sits astride the West Bank, that has a Palestinian majority, and that shares the longest border with Israel. Were things to go very wrong between Israelis and Palestinians on the West Bank, Jordan would be the first to feel it. So it is Jordan’s national interest to elevate Israeli-Palestinian peace to preeminence. In particular circumstances, such as the Iraq war, it will strike other chords. But its default position is to declare, always with urgency, that the sky is about to fall on Israelis and Palestinians, that the world must act now to prevent that, and that a Palestinian state will help solve every problem, everywhere. In that respect, Jordan is unique in the Arab world.

And King Abdullah of Jordan seems to have been the only Arab leader whose message strictly conformed to Hagel’s idée fixe about linkage. This would become significant in July 2008, when candidate Barack Obama set off for the Middle East, accompanied by Hagel (and Senator Jack Reed). This visit has been described as “an intense bonding experience” between Hagel and Obama, in which they “delved deeply into policy discussions—’wonkfests,’ as one former aide called them.” The swing included a stop in Amman. (King Abdullah returned from Aspen to be there, and at the end of the visit, he personally drove Obama to the airport like the regular guy he is.) We don’t have a leaked record of the king’s meeting with the delegation. But the press statement issued by the royal palace reported that the king stressed to Obama “that ending the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land and achieving a just settlement to the Arab-Israeli conflict tops the priorities of the people of the Middle East.” The king’s view of how linkage actually operated came through in Obama’s own account, in a press interview:

I think King, King Abdullah is as savvy an analyst of the region and player in the region as, as there is, one of the points that he made and I think a lot of people made, is that we’ve got to have an overarching strategy recognizing that all these issues are connected. If we can solve the Israeli-Palestinian process, then that will make it easier for Arab states and the Gulf states to support us when it comes to issues like Iraq and Afghanistan.

It will also weaken Iran, which has been using Hamas and Hezbollah as a way to stir up mischief in the region. If we’ve gotten an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, maybe at the same time peeling Syria out of the Iranian orbit, that makes it easier to isolate Iran so that they have a tougher time developing a nuclear weapon.

So Obama, under the combined influence of Hagel and Abdullah, became a convert to linkage. It was this notion that propelled the Obama administration, from its very first day, into a flurry of efforts to restart Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. The very urgency with which this campaign was launched may have been its undoing, producing the “self-inflicted wound” of the U.S. demand for an Israeli settlement freeze. Hagel wasn’t implicated in that decision. The linkage mindset was.

A Dangerous Notion

It could do still more damage. Linkage-think can lead to panicked overreaction whenever Israelis and Arabs do exchange blows, as they occasionally do. In the summer of 2006, when Israel and Hezbollah fought another round (not their first and probably not their last), Hagel had just such a seizure:

I think it is so serious now, I think we are at the most dangerous time maybe we have seen ever in the Middle East with all the combustible elements… The president needs to get seriously engaged now. If we do not do that now at this moment, and I mean this moment, then the possibility of this escalating into a Middle East catastrophe, which would drag in all nations of the world, if for no other reason than just the energy dynamic here. The ramifications, the significance of all of this is astounding once you start to chart it out.

“The most dangerous time ever,” “catastrophe,” “drag in all nations of the world,” “astounding”—there is not a sentence here (even an incomplete one) that isn’t a model of apocalyptic hyperbole, more evocative of an end-time preacher than a U.S. senator. Linkage, like any domino theory, inflates events way out of their true proportion. Israel’s mini-wars aren’t preludes to Armageddon, and one would hate for a U.S. secretary of defense to think they were.

And linkage mania is a standing temptation to an open-ended intervention of the kind Hagel is supposed to abhor. Hagel signed his name (with other “realists”) to a 2009 paper warning the new President Obama that the “last chance” for a two-state solution could be lost in “six to twelve months.” The paper proposed deployment of a U.N.-mandated, U.S.-led NATO force (plus Egyptians and Jordanians) to the West Bank for five to fifteen years, to assume security responsibilities. The United States has always been steadfast in resisting proposals to put U.S. troops between Israelis and Palestinians, for fear of not ever being able to extricate them. A 2010 NATO-published planning paper concluded that “NATO’s mission in Palestine would have slim chances of success, and a high probability of failure…. It seems irresponsible to hasten NATO into a mission that has all the ingredients to turn into a quagmire that equals the Alliance’s involvement in Afghanistan.” Hagel would consider taking that plunge.

Of course, if you believe that the future of America and all humankind hinges on urgent creation of a Palestinian state, you might favor such a risky intervention. But does it? That would be a great question to pose to Chuck Hagel when he comes up for confirmation.

Posted on 01/15/2013 1:07 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 15 January 2013
London Evening Standard thinks better of using the 'M' word.

This is how the article about the trial of the 9 specimens of Islam on trial at the Old Bailey showed up in Google News.

But when I clicked on the story, how did it read?

Sex gang accused of grooming ‘troubled’ underage girls - Nine Asian men “groomed” and sexually abused underage girls as part of a child sex ring, a court heard today.

I suspect the journalist Kiran Randhawa was right in the beginning but her bosses didn't like her being so forthright so her work was changed. But the names are a dead giveaway.

The accused, all arrested in Oxford as part of Thames Valley Police’s Operation Bullfinch, deny all the charges, between 2004 and last year. They include two sets of brothers, Akhtar Dogar, 32, and Anjum Dogar, 30, and Bassam Karrar, 33, and Mohammed Karrar, 38. The others are Kamar Jamil, 27, Zeeshan Ahmed, 27, Assad Hussain, 32, Bilal Ahmed, 26, and Mohammed Hussain, 24.

Posted on 01/15/2013 1:15 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Tuesday, 15 January 2013
In Mali, Now France Looks Like A Model To Be Followed

France is not about to squander trillions wasted winning unwinnable Muslim hearts and minds. No nonsense, but concentration on limiting the power of th, or billions, or even millions, on attempting to win local hearts and minds among Muslims. Those Muslims who have seen what other Muslims, the most fanatical ones, do, will be grateful for being rescued from their threatened domination; that gratitude, even if short-lived (and it may not be so short-lived) is enough. The war right now in Mali is against those who take Islam most to heart to damage both those Muslims who do not take Islam quite so much to heart (which does not make those more "moderate" -- comical word, at this point -- Muslims our friends, but merely, for the moment, makes them less obviously dangerous to Infidel interests) are being helped by France. But more important, France is stabilizing the situation for itself, and for the West, and for the rest of the world's on-Muslims. And doing it without all the nonsense and squandering of the clumsy and expensive and incoherent American efforts -- two fiascos-- in Iraq and Afghanistan. French policy is like that of the Israelis in dealing with their enemies in Gaza and elsewhere; Attack, but do not stay, do not occupy. And above all, don't lavish money on the locals. And in France's case, make sure they are grateful, and that their gratitude is shown, and the fear of the locals for the "real" Muslims is to be encouraged.  I've seen on French television  the picutres from Bamako of the tricolore being waved, and with unfeigned enthusiasm.

After bombing in Afghanistan in the fall of 2001, and reducing Al Qaeda to practically nothing, and terrifying the Taliban, the Americans should have pulled out, with promises to return, via drones and bombers and all kinds of missiles, whenever they felt like it. And in Iraq, once it was clear that there were no weapons of mass destruction -- that became clear, at the latest, at the very beginning of February 2004 -- the Americans should have promptly pulled out, and having destroyed the Sunni regime, have watched as the Shi'a took power, refused to share it, and the Sunnis refused to acquiesce. For that is what has now happened, inevitably, and would simply have happened earlier, and without more than a decade of a quite unnecessary and wasteful American presence, or as some might call it "occupation," of permanantly-benighted Iraq, riven with sectarian and ethnic conflict that we should do nothing to discourage, as we should do nothing to discourage similar conflictrs throughout the Camp of Islam.

Republican leader says Obama must back France in fight against al-Qaida 'cancer' in Africa

Joe Penney / Reuters

A leading Republican called Tuesday for President Barack Obama to support France’s military intervention against the “cancer” of al-Qaida-linked militants in North Africa.

Rep. Ed Royce, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement that he welcomed France’s decision to send troops and warplanes “to combat this serious security threat” in Mali.

“The vast area of northern Mali gives these al Qaeda-linked militants space to operate, and the weapons flowing out of Libya makes them deadly. This cancer could not go unaddressed,” he said in the statement.

"This isn't avant garde for the French. They have shown leadership in working with Ivory Coast and other African governments to improve security.  Paris understands the high stakes,” he added. "I expect the Obama Administration to honor appropriate requests for intelligence and logistics support from France.”

Royce stressed that “we should have our ally's back" when dealing with the “shared threat.”

France has sent about 500 troops to Mali and is sending about 1,000 more along with armored vehicles.

They are taking on at least three Islamic militant groups, including al-Qaida in the Islamic Magreb, U.S. national security officials told NBC News Monday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The sources added that they were being helped by U.S. military and intelligence operations and that the U.S. would also provide transport and refueling capability for the operation. U.S. drones and spy satellites were also being used.

Panetta: No U.S. 'boots on ground'
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Tuesday at a press conference in Portugal that "there is no consideration of putting any American boots on the ground at this time" in Mali, The Associated Press reported.

He added that al-Qaida affiliates in Mali did not currently pose a threat to the United States but stressed "ultimately that remains their objective."

On Monday, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters that “we share the French goal of denying terrorists a safe haven.” [what about Muslims, any number of whom can begin to take, or already do take, Islam to heart and share the goals, if prudently not the methods, of Al Qaeda -- should they not be denied the "safe havens" of living among us, where they pose a permanent menace, a security threat as well as a source of societal disarray and discord?]

In a statement released by the U.K.’s Foreign Office, political directors of the G8 group of leading nations said they had discussed the situation in Mali at a meeting in London Tuesday and “expressed grave concern.”

“They noted that it is essential to halt the offensive by terrorist groups towards southern Mali, to prevent the collapse of the Malian state, and to accelerate the implementation of UN Security Council resolutions in all their dimensions: political, security and humanitarian,” the statement said.

Posted on 01/15/2013 1:18 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 15 January 2013
Indian Government Fed Up With Pakistan, A Country That Exists To Wage Jihad

Pakistan exists for Muslims and for Islam. That is its purpose. That is its reason for being. It has to conduct Jihad, for what else can the Pakistanis do, what else can the Pakistani military do, to justify themselves?

That is why, every time the Indian government tries to come to some arrangement with Pakistan, some semblance of better relations, that arrangement has been, is, will be disturbed by the violence and aggression from one side only -- that of Pakistan. It could be its army. It could be one or more of its many terrorist groups and groupuscules, supported by the I.S.I.How long will it take for the non-Muslims of India, including those who, especially in the West, so ostentatiously deplore the "communalism" of their fellow Hindus, in their self-satisfied eyes much less tolerant of Muslims and Pakistan because, you see, they are so much more primitive than themselves, that is Indian, that is Hindu,  "intellectuals" (who in their misguided tolerance for Pakistan and Islam but act the sedulous ape of other "intellectuals"  in London and New York, or what they, a little behind the times, think is still the fashion in London and New York). How long, o Lord, how long? A score or crore of years?

The  latest indian soldier decapitated, and the headless aftermath:

Indian Leader Accuses Pakistan of Restarting Hostilities in Kashmir

NEW DELHI — Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India on Tuesday made what may be one of his most aggressive public statements ever about Pakistan, accusing the neighboring country of restarting hostilities in the disputed Kashmir region last week and saying the action had halted growing cooperation between the two.

“After this dastardly act, there can’t be business as usual with Pakistan,” Mr. Singh told the local television station NDTV, referring to a recent episode in which, India claims, an Indian soldier was beheaded by Pakistani soldiers.

India and Pakistan have maintained a cease-fire since November 2003, and relations had been improving over the past year. But on Jan. 6, Pakistan accused the Indian Army of crossing the Line of Control, the disputed border the two countries share, and killing one Pakistani soldier and wounding another. India denied these accusations, and two days later accused Pakistan of killing two Indian soldiers at the line and of beheading one of them. Pakistan denied these charges.

India’s external affairs minister, Salman Khurshid, echoed the prime minister’s words in a statement issued later Tuesday.

“It should not be felt that the brazen denial and the lack of a proper response from the government of Pakistan to our repeated demarches on this incident will be ignored and that bilateral relations could be unaffected or that there will be business as usual,” Mr. Khurshid said. Calling the Pakistani Army’s purported actions “in contravention of all norms of international conduct,” and a “grave provocation,” Mr. Khurshid said they shed doubts on Pakistan’s seriousness about normalizing relations with India.

On Monday, Gen. Bikram Singh, the chief of the Indian Army, warned that India could retaliate. “If provoked, we will retaliate,” he told reporters in New Delhi. “We reserve the right to retaliate at a time of our choosing.”

Serious military action between the two nations, which have nuclear weapons, seems unlikely, analysts in India said in recent days. Still, civilians may be already be feeling an impact. On Tuesday, India was supposed to start a “visa on arrival” program for senior citizens from Pakistan. Instead, that program was put on hold, The Press Trust of India reported.
Posted on 01/15/2013 1:59 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 15 January 2013
Palestinian Media Watch: Jews Have No Connection, None, To The Western Wall
PA: "The Western Wall... no person
besides Muslims ever used it as a place of worship, throughout all of history" 

by Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik

The Palestinian Authority Minister of Religious Affairs, Mahmoud Al-Habbash, said recently that all of Jerusalem and the Western Wall are "the sole right of Palestinians." To back this up, he falsely claimed that "no person besides Muslims ever used it [the Western Wall] as a place of worship, throughout all of history, until the ominous Balfour Declaration was issued in 1917." This denial of the Jewish nation's history by the PA minister came in response to a statement  by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about Israel's 3,000 year history in Jerusalem, as he lit the eighth candle of the Chanukah holiday last month at the Western Wall. The PA minister said Netanyahu's statements were "nothing but nonsense and an attempt to manipulate both history and geography, and are worthless from a religious, historical, or legal point of view." His statements were reported by WAFA, the official PA news agency.

Al-Habbash's statement that Jews did not pray at the Western Wall in the past is historically unfounded. Both Jewish and non-Jewish sources document that the Western Wall was used for Jewish worship and prayer. For example, US President Abraham Lincoln's Secretary of State William H. Seward visited Jerusalem in 1871 and described his experience in his book Travels Around the World. He wrote in detail about the intense devotion of Jews in prayer at the Western Wall, which he called the "Jews' Wailing-Place." (See below a long quote from his book describing Jews' devotion at the Western Wall.) The above illustration of Jews in prayer at the Western Wall is from his book.

Palestinian Media Watch has documented that this ongoing PA denial of Jewish history in Israel and especially Jerusalem is a fundamental component of the PA's political program to deny Israel's right to exist. (See below.)

The following is the PA minister's statement denying a Jewish connection to the Western Wall:
"Minister for Religious Affairs Mahmoud Al-Habbash said that Jerusalem and all its features, its geography, and its Islamic and Christian holy sites, and this includes the Western Wall, are the sole right of Palestinians. (The Arabic throughout the text for the Western Wall is Al-Buraq Wall - Ed.) In a press release he stressed that [Israeli Prime Minister] Netanyahu's recent statements concerning the occupation's (i.e., Israel's) ownership of the Western Wall are nothing but nonsense and an attempt to manipulate both history and geography, and are worthless from a religious, historical, or legal point of view. (See Netanyahu's exact quote below - Ed.) Al-Habbash made clear that Netanyahu's statements about Jerusalem and the Western Wall lack the elementary scientific basis for approaching history which has always proven Islamic ownership of the Western Wall... that no person besides Muslims ever used it as a place of worship, throughout all of history, until the ominous Balfour Declaration was issued in 1917."
[WAFA, official PA news agency, Dec. 17, 2012,
Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Dec. 18, 2012]

The following is the statement by PM Netanyahu at the Western Wall, as he lit the eighth candle of Chanukah, which prompted the PA minister's statement:
"In recent days, I have heard that the Palestinians are saying that the Western Wall is occupied territory. I want to tell them from the closest possible place to the miracle of the jar of oil: The Western Wall has been ours for 3,000 years, and it and the State of Israel will be ours forever."
[Israeli Prime Minister's website, pmo.gov.il , accessed Dec. 27, 2012]
http://www.pmo.gov.il/English/MediaCenter/Events/Pages/eventwall151212.aspx

 

Below are excerpts from Abraham Lincoln's Secretary of State William H. Seward's book Travels Around the World describing Jewish worship at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. (Cited at http://lennybendavid.com/2012/08/president-lincolns-secretary-of-state.html)


"June 13, 1871... Jerusalem is now divided according to its different classes of population. The Mohammedans are four thousand, and occupy the northeast quarter, including the whole area of the Mosque of Omar. The Jews are eight thousand, and have the southeast quarter... The Armenians number eighteen hundred, and have the southwest quarter; and the other Christians, amounting to twenty-two hundred, have the northwest quarter...

The Jewish Sabbath being on Saturday, and beginning at sunset on Friday, the weekly wail of the Jews under the wall takes place on Friday, and is a preparation for the rest and worship of the day which they are commanded to "keep holy." The small rectangular oblong area, without roof or canopy, (i.e., the Western Wall) serves for the gathering of the whole remnant of the Jewish nation in Jerusalem. Here, whether it rains or shines, they come together at an early hour, old and young, men, women, and little children--the poor and the rich, in their best costumes, discordant as the diverse nations from which they come. They are attended by their rabbis, each bringing the carefully-preserved and elaborately-bound text of the book of the Lamentations of Jeremiah, either in their respective languages, or in the original Hebrew. For many hours they pour forth their complaints, reading and reciting the poetic language of the prophet, beating their hands against the wall, and bathing the stones with their kisses and tears. It is no mere formal ceremony. During the several hours while we were spectators of it, there was not one act of irreverence or indifference. Only those who have seen the solemn prayer-meeting of a religious revival, held by some evangelical denomination at home, can have a true idea of the solemnity and depth of the profound grief and pious feeling exhibited by this strange assembly on so strange an occasion, although no ritual in the Catholic, Greek, or Episcopal Church is conducted with more solemnity and propriety."

[Travels Around the World, William H. Seward, quoted at

At same link, read Seward's description of his visit to the Hurva Synagogue]

   

The PA's denial of Jewish history in Israel is an integral part of the PA's political program. This denial is used as the basis for the PA's denial of Israel's right to exist. This was expressed explicitly in a recent article by a PA daily columnist who argued that Zionists have no connection to the Biblical Hebrews and therefore Israel has "no historical or legal basis" to exist:
"The Zionist movement's leaders and their broad group of followers have no relation even to the [Biblical] twelve tribes of Israel, as the great Hungarian historian [Arthur] Koestler proved, and as Jewish and Israeli researchers clarified later. This means that the superfluous [nation] in this region, and the one harming its security and stability, is the occupation (i.e., Israel) in all its shapes and stages, whether in the past or in the present, and whether in the form of military occupation, settlement, or fabricating Judaization that have no historical or legal basis."
[Op-ed official PA daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Dec. 15, 2012]

The Western Wall is a small section of the Temple Mount that has remained standing since Rome's destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 70 CE. The PA teaches that there never was a Jewish Temple in Jerusalem nor was there a Jewish presence. This distortion of history is the basis for the PA stance that Jews/Israel have no right to Jerusalem and no right to pray at the Western Wall.

In keeping with this policy, PA TV broadcast a documentary in 2010 and 2011 that described Jews praying at the Western Wall as "sin and filth."

Click to see more examples of PA denial of Jewish history in Jerusalem.
Posted on 01/15/2013 2:12 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 15 January 2013
To The Great And General Relief Of Malians, France Comes To Their Rescue

Les habitants de Bamako disent un grand merci à la France

Par , publié le

La menace islamiste était prise très au sérieux par les habitants de la capitale malienne. Leur soulagement après l'intervention militaire de la France transpire des nombreux témoignages de remerciement recueillis ce samedi. 

Les habitants de Bamako disent un grand merci à la France

De nombreux habitants de Bamako saluaient samedi l'intervention française au côté de l'armée malienne pour bloquer l'avancée des islamistes vers le sud.

AFP PHOTO / HABIBOU KOUYATE

C'est un grand ouf de soulagement que pousse ce samedi la capitale malienne au lendemain d'une intervention de la France. Celle-ci a permis à l'armée malienne d'arrêter une colonne islamiste venu du nord et de reprendre la ville de Konna, à 700 kilomètres au nord. "Les Français nous ont vraiment sauvés!", affirme Moussa Touré, un habitant de Bamako, après l'intervention militaire française ayant permis à l'armée malienne de stopper l'avancée des jihadistes vers le sud du Mali. "Les islamistes allaient progresser rapidement vers nous sans l'intervention de l'armée française", explique Moussa, la trentaine, discutant avec des jeunes autour d'un thé, à l'ombre d'un mur, dans le quartier de Ntomikorobougou. 

"Je remercie très sincèrement la France de cette initiative salutaire", renchérit Aliou Daou, un autre Bamakois. Pour M. Daou, l'implication militaire de la France vient "à un moment crucial" pour le Mali, dont le Nord est en 2012 un sanctuaire pour les groupes islamistes armés liés à Al-Qaïda, qui l'occupent depuis neuf mois en y appliquant la charia (loi islamique). 

Après avoir pris jeudi à l'armée malienne la ville de Konna (centre), ils ont déclaré vouloir progresser et installer leur emprise sur le Sud, sous contrôle gouvernemental, mais ont été stoppés par l'armée malienne avec l'appui, aérien notamment, de la France. Konna était samedi sous contrôle des forces maliennes, selon des militaires maliens et des témoins. 

"Certains hommes politiques avaient (fait) un mauvais jugement sur la France, qui prouve sa bonne foi en envoyant des troupes aux côtés de l'armée malienne", commente Abdoulaye Coulibaly, 42 ans, comptable dans une société de commerce. 

Sur le Boulevard de l'Indépendance, point névralgique des manifestations politiques dans le centre de la capitale, un jeune vendeur de cartes de recharge de téléphone s'exclame: "Merci (François) Hollande!", le président français. Dans la circulation, quelques drapeaux français sont visibles, accrochés à des voitures. Dans les rues, des passants ont l'oreille collée à la radio pour suivre les dernières informations. 

Décidée suite à la demande des autorités de Bamako, l'intervention militaire aérienne française à Konna a permis de stopper vendredi la progression vers le Sud des islamistes armés. 

"Service après-vente de la guerre en Libye"

Plusieurs Maliens, des militaires notamment, s'étaient déclarés hostiles à la participation de troupes étrangères dans la reconquête du nord du Mali, malgré l'état de déliquescence de l'armée malienne. Intervenue seule en milieu de semaine à Konna, celle-ci a été contrainte au repli par les jihadistes, selon des sources concordantes.  

L'intervention française est "conforme à la légalité internationale et dans la ligne de l'amitié entre la France et le Mali. M. Hollande a fait ce que les Maliens attendaient" de lui, a estimé l'opposant et ex-Premier ministre Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta sur l'antenne de Radio France Internationale (RFI).  

Un autre Bamakois, tenant à garder son anonymat, soutient que les islamistes ont pu s'emparer de villes et localités du Mali par la faute des "Occidentaux", en allusion à la guerre de Libye en 2011 à l'issue de laquelle des islamistes ayant combattu aux côtés des troupes libyennes sont revenues du front avec des armées qui ont été plus tard utilisées contre l'armée malienne dans le nord du pays ."Ce sont les Occidentaux qui nous ont plongé dans cette situation", accuse-t-il, trouvant normale l'intervention de la France. 

Au Mali, "la France n'a pas à assurer elle seule le service après-vente de la guerre en Libye, les Etats-Unis et l'Otan doivent aussi se salir les mains" en se joignant à l'intervention, s'emporte un internaute malien. Pour Aïssata Cissé, une restauratrice au Quartier du Fleuve, l'heure est à l'union autour de l'armée. "Tous les Maliens doivent oublier leur ego pour encourager nos soldats à libérer le Nord", déclare-t-elle. 

Le calme régnait samedi dans la capitale, où l'état d'urgence est en vigueur depuis la veille, et où des agents de police étaient visibles à certains carrefours. 

Avec

Posted on 01/15/2013 2:15 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 15 January 2013
A Musical Interlude: Mon Légionnaire (Marie Dubas)
Listen here.
Posted on 01/15/2013 2:19 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 15 January 2013
Ivan Rioufol: The France That Will Be Heard

Dimanche, la France s'est éveillée...

321 Commentaires
La France des oubliés, qui a inondé les rues de Paris dimanche, n’entend pas disparaître à nouveau. L’erreur du pouvoir et de ses médias serait de mésestimer cette force vitale, en feignant de la croire minoritaire, dépassée, voire moribonde. Elle semble, tout au contraire, décidée à s’imposer en réaction aux tentatives de déconstruction d’une civilisation millénaire dont la famille est le socle. Le plus remarquable était la détermination sereine, aimable, amusée, de ces centaines de milliers de manifestants venus de toute la France pour défendre des valeurs, des principes.  C’est la société civile qui a exposé calmement son potentiel de contestation. Elle s’est affirmée comme un nouvel acteur, inspiré, dans le paysage politique. Ceux qui étaient à l’affût du moindre dérapage homophobe sont d’ailleurs restés sur leur faim. La faute de François Hollande serait de s’enfermer dans le déni des faits, et de persister à imposer un projet de loi contesté et contestable. Quand un citoyen choisit de se lever à quatre ou cinq heures du matin et de faire des heures de route ou de train pour une cause immatérielle, il est prêt à recommencer s’il s’estime méprisé. La France apparemment somnolente s’est éveillée. Elle n’a très probablement pas fini de faire parle d’elle.

 Hollande ne peut fermer les yeux devant la réalité de cette France raisonnablement conservatrice, comme il ne peut plus davantage s’aveugler devant la réalité de l’offensive islamiste, notamment au nord-Mali. Dans les deux cas, la force des évidences est appelée à s’imposer. Je me réjouis, en l’occurrence, de voir le chef de l’Etat, qui s’était qualifié de "président des bisous" tandis que Libération vantait sa "France tranquillou", redécouvrir la force des armes dans la guerre qu’il vient de déclarer au terrorisme islamiste. J’espère que cette louable lucidité invitera désormais le pays à prendre ses distances avec l’islam radical, promu par exemple par les Frères musulmans ou le Qatar, ce pays privilégié depuis Nicolas Sarkozy. La démocratie française s’honore de combattre une idéologie obscurantiste qui a pris l’Europe pour cible. Mais cette même démocratie, qui se donne en exemple sur la scène internationale, ne peut rester sourde, chez elle, au message qu’ont fait passer les centaines de milliers de citoyens décidés, eux aussi, à défendre un idéal et à apporter des limites à la permissivité et au relativisme exigés par des minorités tyranniques.
Posted on 01/15/2013 2:58 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 15 January 2013
The Complete Fiasco Of American Policy In Mali (And Elsewhere)

From -- even from -- The New York Times:

January 14, 2012

French Strikes in Mali Supplant Caution of U.S.

BAMAKO, Mali — French fighter jets struck deep inside Islamist strongholds in northern Mali on Sunday, shoving aside months of international hesitation about storming the region after every other effort by the United States and its allies to thwart the extremists had failed.

For years, the United States tried to stem the spread of Islamic militancy in the region by conducting its most ambitious counterterrorism program ever across these vast, turbulent stretches of the Sahara.

But as insurgents swept through the desert last year, commanders of this nation’s elite army units, the fruit of years of careful American training, defected when they were needed most — taking troops, guns, trucks and their newfound skills to the enemy in the heat of battle, according to senior Malian military officials.

“It was a disaster,” said one of several senior Malian officers to confirm the defections.

Then an American-trained officer overthrew Mali’s elected government, setting the stage for more than half of the country to fall into the hands of Islamic extremists. American spy planes and surveillance drones have tried to make sense of the mess, but American officials and their allies are still scrambling even to get a detailed picture of who they are up against.

Now, in the face of longstanding American warnings that a Western assault on the Islamist stronghold could rally jihadists around the world and prompt terrorist attacks as far away as Europe, the French have entered the war themselves.

First, they blunted an Islamist advance, saying the rest of Mali would have fallen into the hands of militants within days. Then on Sunday, French warplanes went on the offensive, going after training camps, depots and other militant positions far inside Islamist-held territory in an effort to uproot the militants, who have formed one of the largest havens for jihadists in the world.

Some Defense Department officials, notably officers at the Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations Command, have pushed for a lethal campaign to kill senior operatives of two of the extremists groups holding northern Mali, Ansar Dine and Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. Killing the leadership, they argued, could lead to an internal collapse.

But with its attention and resources so focused on other conflicts in places like Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Libya, the Obama administration has rejected such strikes in favor of a more cautious, step-back strategy: helping African nations repel and contain the threat on their own.

Over the last four years, the United States has spent between $520 million and $600 million in a sweeping effort to combat Islamist militancy in the region without fighting the kind of wars it has waged in the Middle East. The program stretched from Morocco to Nigeria, and American officials heralded the Malian military as an exemplary partner. American Special Forces trained its troops in marksmanship, border patrol, ambush drills and other counterterrorism skills.

But all that deliberate planning collapsed swiftly when heavily armed, battle-hardened Islamist fighters returned from combat in Libya. They teamed up with jihadists like Ansar Dine, routed poorly equipped Malian forces and demoralized them so thoroughly that it set off a mutiny against the government in the capital, Bamako.

A confidential internal review completed last July by the Pentagon’s Africa Command concluded that the coup had unfolded too quickly for American commanders or intelligence analysts to detect any clear warning signs.

The coup in Mali progressed very rapidly and with very little warning,” said Col. Tom Davis, a command spokesman. “The spark that ignited it occurred within their junior military ranks, who ultimately overthrew the government, not at the senior leadership level where warning signs might have been more easily noticed.”

But one Special Operations Forces officer disagreed, saying, “This has been brewing for five years. The analysts got complacent in their assumptions and did not see the big changes and the impacts of them, like the big weaponry coming out of Libya and the different, more Islamic” fighters who came back.

The same American-trained units that had been seen as the best hope of repelling such an advance proved, in the end, to be a linchpin in the country’s military defeat. The leaders of these elite units were Tuaregs — the very ethnic nomads who were overrunning northern Mali.

According to one senior officer, the Tuareg commanders of three of the four Malian units fighting in the north at the time defected to the insurrection “at the crucial moment,” taking fighters, weapons and scarce equipment with them. He said they were joined by about 1,600 other defectors from within the Malian Army, crippling the government’s hope of resisting the onslaught.

The aid of the Americans turned out not to be useful,” said another ranking Malian officer, now engaged in combat. “They made the wrong choice,” he said of relying on commanders from a group that had been conducting a 50-year rebellion against the Malian state.

The virtual collapse of the Malian military, including units trained by United States Special Forces, followed by a coup led by an American-trained officer, Capt. Amadou Sanogo, astounded and embarrassed top American military commanders.

“I was sorely disappointed that a military with whom we had a training relationship participated in the military overthrow of an elected government,” Gen. Carter F. Ham, the head of the Africa Command, said in a speech at Brown University last month . “There is no way to characterize that other than wholly unacceptable.”

American officials defended their training, saying it was never intended to be nearly as comprehensive as what the United States has done in Iraq and Afghanistan. “We trained five units over five years but is that going to make a fully fledged, rock-solid military?” asked an American military official familiar with the region.

After the coup, extremists quickly elbowed out the Tuaregs in northern Mali and enforced a harsh brand of Islam on the populace, cutting off hands, whipping residents and forcing tens of thousands to flee. Western nations then adopted a containment strategy, urging African nations to cordon off the north until they could muster a force to oust the Islamists by the fall, at the earliest. To that end, the Pentagon is providing Mauritania new trucks and Niger two Cessna surveillance aircraft, along with training for both countries. [this is because the Obama Administration takes seriously the abilities of, and trusts the loyalties of, local troops -- both the product of terminal naivete and incomprehension].

But even that backup plan failed, as Islamists pushed south toward the capital last week. With thousands of French citizens in Mali, its former colony, France decided it could not wait any longer, striking the militants at the front line and deep within their haven.

Some experts said that the foreign troops might easily retake the large towns in northern Mali, but that Islamist fighters have forced children to fight for them, a deterrent for any invading force, and would likely use bloody insurgency tactics.

“They have been preparing these towns to be a death trap,” said Rudy Atallah, the former director of African counterterrorism policy for the Pentagon. “If an intervention force goes in there, the militants will turn it into an insurgency war.”

Posted on 01/15/2013 3:05 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 15 January 2013
The Sectarian And Ethnic Hostilities In Iraq May Well Be "Bad News For Iraq And For The Middle East In General" But It's Good News For Infidels Everywhere

While Walter Russell Mead notes that a civil war -- hot, cold, or as it now appears, just right -- may be  "bad for Iraq and the [Muslim] Middle East" it's good for the non-Muslims of the world because it weakens, divides, demoralizes, keeps preoccupied, the hideous Camp of Islam. As good, in its way, as the war in Syria -- may that  go on forever --or the Iran-Iraq War, which should have gone on forever, or the war between Nasser's Egypt and the Saudi-backed Royalists in Yemen in the mid-1960s, which did not, unfortrunately, go on nearly long enough, but at least in Yemen, everyone's up in arms again.

From the blog of Walter Russell Mead:

January 15, 2013

Is Civil War About to Return to Iraq?

A Sunni member of Iraq’s parliament was assassinated by a suicide bomber today, just two days after a failed roadside bomb attack, apparently aimed at the finance minister (also Sunni). The AP reports:

The governor of Anbar province, Qassim al-Fahdawi, said that lawmaker Ifan Saadoun was killed when a suicide bomber blew himself up in the restive city of Fallujah.

The attack comes two days after a convoy carrying Iraq’s Sunni finance minister, Rafia al-Issawi, was struck by a bomb as he traveled to the city. Al-Issawi hails from the same tribe and is from the same political bloc as the lawmaker.

This is bad news for Iraq and for the Middle East in general. “Blowing up Sunni MP Ayfan Issawi 2 days after attempt on Finance Min Rafi Issawi suggests someone wants war. Iraq looking very wobbly,” tweeted Washington Post correspondent Liz Sly.

Over the past few weeks tens of thousands of Sunni protestors have been out on the streets of Anbar province and elsewhere to voice anger at Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who they say is becoming a dictator and restricting their rights.

Very wobbly indeed. As Henri Barkey wrote for the AI recently, Iraq may ultimately break up into autonomous or independent regions. That would surely not be an entirely peaceful process. With things as tense as they are now, even if the country holds together the near future is likely to be marked by political assassinations, protest campaigns, and even war.

Posted on 01/15/2013 4:44 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 15 January 2013
The Good News from Israel for 2013

Left to right, Hanin Zouabi, Zehava Gal-on, Shelly Yachimovich, Tzipi Livni, Yair Lapid, Avigdor Liberman, Benjamin Netanyahu, Naftali Bennett and Aryeh Deri. (Graphics by Uri Fintzy)

Source; JTA

An earlier version of these remarks was made in a talk by senior editor Jerry Gordon at Congregation Beth El in Fairfield, Connecticut on January 12, 2013.

______________________________________________________________________________________________


Israel may be surrounded by Islamic fundamentalists on all of its land borders and face threats to its destruction from Iran.  Meanwhile, President Obama is upset with Israel and the prospect of a possible rightward shift in next Tuesday’s Knesset elections. According to columnist Jeffrey Goldberg writing in Bloomberg.com, President Obama allegedly expressed the opinion privately "Israel doesn't know what its own best interests are and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu "is moving his country down a path toward near-total isolation.”  The President was referring to PM Netanyahu’s announcement to proceed with the construction of housing in the E-1 project  in Judea, a rebuke of the UN vote granting the Palestinian Authority non-observer status.  


 Given the looming January Knesset election, less than a week away, Israel’s electorate may be moving towards what Carolyn Glick has called the " Second Zionist Revolution" She noted in a blog post:


Next week we're going to vote and it is already clear that Israel is in the midst of the Second Zionist Revolution. The first Zionist revolution was a socialist revolution. The second Zionist revolution is Jewish. Israel is coming into its own. Judaism is flourishing, changing, living and breathing here like it never has anywhere since the destruction of the Second Commonwealth.


Perhaps Israel’s critics haven’t gotten the word of what is about to occur in the Jewish nation.


Notwithstanding, 2013 could augur well for a good year in Israel. Here are four reasons why.


The Demographic Time Bomb in Israel is a Myth.  According to estimates from the Central Bureau of Statistics Israel’s population reached 8 million in 2012.  Israel Hayom noted  that Over 75.4 percent are Jewish, 20 percent are Arab and four percent are defined as “other.” For the first time Israel’s 6.0 Million Jews equals or surpasses the Jewish population in the US. Fertility for Jewish women of child bearing age now surpasses that of Arab women in Israel which is in decline.  Former Ambassador Yoram Ettinger noted the underlying demographic changes in an Ettinger Report article in October 2012:


In 2012, Israel’s Jewish fertility rate (three births per woman) is trending upward, boding well for Israel’s economy and national security.


In 2012, the Israeli Arab-Jewish fertility gap is half a birth per woman, compared with a six birth gap in 1969.  Moreover, young Jewish and Arab Israeli women have converged at three births, with Arab women trending below – and Jewish women trending above – three births.  


That wasn’t the only good news; Israelis are living longer and have amongst the highest life expectancies in the world.  Israel Hayom reported:


 Israelis have among the highest life expectancies on the globe, with an overall life expectancy of 81.7 years, according to a new study released by the Central Bureau for Statistics. The study, which covered Israeli demographic trends from 2011, found that although Israeli men can expect to live shorter lives than Israeli women, when compared to other men around the world they come in second only to Switzerland.


According to the study, the overall Israeli life expectancy of 81.7 years puts Israel in fifth place out of all OECD countries, and is two years more than the average OECD life expectancy of 79.7.


Israel Starts Energy Independence.   Remember the hoary joke about ancient Jews who left Egypt and crossed into the Sinai making a wrong turning left instead of right when they could have had all of Saudi Arabia’s oil.   The mainstream media has not emphasized Ha Shem’s great gift to Israel, the huge offshore natural gas fields, estimated at over 30 trillion cubic feet. These fields are about to begin production along with the pilot tests of in situ oil extraction from the shale formation in the Shefla basin in 2013.   Israel oil shale reserves might even rival those of Saudi Arabia perhaps exceeding more than 250 billion barrels.   The development of these energy resources may enable Israel within this decade to become energy independent.  Those offshore gas and on-shore oil shale developments have the potential of making Israel an energy independent political power in the Middle East and player in the world energy markets. The energy developments could pour billions of royalty revenues into a newly authorized  Sovereign Wealth Fund that might significantly enhance the country’s high tech driven growth. Most importantly it would also provide the funds to enable the IDF to meet the threats arrayed against it.


Dr. Uzi Landau, Minister of Energy and Water Resources, said at the inauguration of the offshore Tamar natural gas platform production, "The Tamar project is the greatest production platform in Israeli history".  Prof. Stanley Fisher head of the Bank of Israel has adjusted upwards Israel’s Gross Domestic Product for 2013 due to the Tamar production.  Landau went on to say:


Natural gas will not only make electricity production more efficient, cleaner, and cheaper, it is a giant step toward freeing us from dependence on foreign energy sources, especially Arab oil. Although the reservoirs are located thousands of meters below the seabed, as far as the possibility of exploiting them is concerned, the sky's the limit.


The Tamar and Leviathan gas fields are the product of a joint venture between Noble Energy of Houston, Texas (NBL-NYSE) and the Delek Partners listed on the Tel Aviv Exchange.   The Tamar well alone cost over $3 billion to develop.   


The offshore gas potential is so large that Gazprom, Russia’s energy giant and an Australian concern have jumped on board angling to obtain minority interest investments in the larger Leviathan offshore gas field.  In December, 2012, RT.com  reported  that Gazprom lost out to Australian Woodside Energy, Ltd in the competition for a minority interest in the Leviathan gas field project.


Israeli High Court decisions in late December 2012 have cleared the way for pilot tests of the on-shore shale oil production to begin in 2013 with hopes of producing more than 50,000 barrels a day by the end of this decade. The offshore natural gas production will provide the fuel to the heat the in-situ production of oil from shale formations in the Shefla Basin. Should you want to gauge the economic value of this fascinating energy development using advanced technology look up a NYSE-listed stock, Genie Energy, Ltd. (GNE).  


High Technology Drives Israel’s Economic Growth.  Israel ranks 17th among 187 world nations on the UN's Human Development Index, which places it in the category of "Very Highly Developed".   In 2011, the latest year of date available, the World Bank estimated Israel’s GDP at over 242 Billion dollars.  GDP growth was 4.7% in 2011. Nominal Per capita GDP for Israel is over $32,298, 27th in world rank among industrial economies. Israel's public debt to GDP is less than 74%.   More than 64.7% of Israel’s GDP is created by its high tech driven services sector.  “Israel is a world leader in software, telecommunication and semiconductors development. The concentration of high-tech industries in Israel is backed by a strong venture capital industry. It has been given the nickname "Silicon Wadi", which is considered second in importance only to its Californian counterpart.”


The secret behind Israeli entrepreneurship is its graduates from super secret electronic intelligence Unit 8200 who end up being backed by leading Israeli and American venture capital firms.  In our interview with American Israeli venture capitalist Jon Medved, we noted:


One of the hidden secrets of why Israel is so successful in this high tech environment is its military. You were quoted in a Foreign Policy article entitled “Boot Camp for Billionaires,” as saying that “everybody who matters in high tech here, meaning Israel, is ex- Unit 8200. I salivate over these guys.” Most Americans don’t realize that the IDF reaches down to the high school level to build competition and selectivity in getting these young, talented Israelis into the military and ultimately onto a track where they become high tech entrepreneurs.


High Technology Shields Israel Citizens from Harm.  Despite the propaganda from the Arabs, Iran and naysayers in the West, Israel won the recent eight day rocket war in November 2012, Operation Pillar of Defense.  The iron Dome batteries fired anti-rocket missiles that intercepted and destroyed more than 425 rockets, including the longer range Fajr-5 supplied by Iran via the Sudan and smuggled across the Sinai to Gaza. Thwarting the ability of Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad to terrorize Israel’s citizens and save lives.  Iron Dome is part of a three layer anti-missile umbrella that includes the Arrow 3 missile system, jointly developed with Boeing, and the David Sling. The Arrow 3 anti-missile has successfully knocked out ICBMs in tests in the US.  David’s Sling is scheduled to be deployed  in 2014. US Congressional funding will enable Israel to complete the deployment of more than 14 Iron Dome batteries covering the country.  This high tech umbrella of protection will assure Israel’s citizens that it can contend with the rocket and missile threats from Jihadists in Gaza, the terrorist army of Hezbollah and Iran.


But don’t overlook Israel’s drones, its unmanned aerial vehicles. Israel has been the leader in development of UAVs.  Salon.com noted Israeli dominance in drone developments:


The Israeli influence is not visible but it is real, documented and extremely relevant to the future of drones in America. If you want to know how drones may change American airspace in coming years, just look to Israel, where the unmanned aerial vehicle market is thriving and drones are considered a reliable instrument of “homeland security.”

“There are three explanations for Israel’s success in becoming a world leader in development and production of UAVs,” a top Israeli official explained to the Jerusalem Post last year. “We have unbelievable people and innovation, combat experience that helps us understand what we need and immediate operational use since we are always in a conflict which allows us to perfect our systems.”


Israel’s drone expertise goes back to at least 1970, according to the UAV page of the Israeli Air Force.

Israeli company Elbit Ltd.  has developed the heavy lift Hermes 900 UAV capable of loitering at high altitudes for more than 40 hours.  UAVs were the reason behind the IDFs success in the recent Gaza conflict.   They played an important role in long range missions in the Sudan intercepting and destroying Iranian weapons convoys bound for Hamas and the PIJ. There is reason to believe that Israeli drones might be used in possible actions against Iranian nuclear sites.


Then there are the German built Dolphin submarines equipped with Israeli designed Popeye tube launched cruise missiles. They are on rotation cruising offshore In the Gulf of Oman keeping a watching brief on Iran’s intentions in the Persian Gulf. Finally, there is Israel’s network of spy satellites providing early warning intelligence to IDF planners in Tel Aviv on Iran’s shipments of longer range rockets and missiles.


The Knesset Elections may produce a surprise.  Two state solution rhetoric you hear from the White House in Washington, Whitehall in London, the EU in Brussels and the UN comes up empty.  The Oslo Process is virtually dead.  


Recent polls by the Peace Index in Israel at year end in 2012 revealed that two thirds or 67%  of Israeli respondents agreed with the statement that regardless of which party wins in the January 22nd Knesset general elections that peace was impossible to achieve with the Palestinians.  As noted by Israel National News (Arutz Sheva):


The poll found that 55% of Israel's Jews define themselves as right-wing, while 21% define themselves as center and 17% as left. The same holds true for voting intentions: about 50% of Jewish respondents report that they intend to vote for secular right-wing and religious right-wing parties, and 30% for parties of the center and the left, while the rest of the respondents have not yet decided or did not respond.


The Peace Index survey result may reflect a spike in Knesset election polls for the Jewish Home party. The Jewish Home party is headed by 40 year old Naftali Bennett, a resident of the American style suburb of Ra’anana north of Tel Aviv.  The charismatic Bennett is the son of American Olim from the San Francisco Bay Area. He is a former IDF Sayeret Matkal officer, reserve Major and multi-millionaire software entrepreneur who sold his company for $145 million in 2005. Bennett then became the former chief of Staff in 2006 to current PM Bibi Netanyahu when he was in opposition in the Knesset prior to his election in 2009.  Bennet broke with Netanyahu was briefly Yesha Council head and ultimately took over leadership in the Jewish Home party. His party might claim upwards of 15 seats in the new Knesset if actual voting confirms polls in Israel.
Part of that spike of interest in the Jewish Home party is fueled by Bennett’s call for annexation of 60 percent of Area C in the disputed territories of Judea and Samaria with an estimated 350,000 Jews and 48,000 Palestinians.  The Palestinians would be offered Israeli citizenship.


Caroline Glick noted what is behind the Jewish Home phenomenon:


The secular Left has been eclipsed by the Jewish Right. I don't call it the religious Right because that is too limiting. What's happening isn't just about religion, it's about everything and that is why non-observant hipsters in Tel Aviv are voting for the Jewish Home party. Non-observant and observant Jews are joining forces and the anti-religious are being left behind.
Two thirds of the Jewish Home party's voters are under 40 and the party is polling at 14-18 seats in polls that under-represent their supporters. I don't pretend to know how the election results are going to look but it is clear that a massive change has occurred in the last few years and it will only become more pronounced in the coming years. Next week's election will be the first formal expression of this change.  


So look for a possible surprise when the January 22nd Knesset general elections occurs. Depending on the outcome Bennett could be a factor in a new ruling coalition with a decided shift to the right in Israel.


These are four reasons why it could be a good year for Israel and Jews around the world.


Watch  this Latma TV satiric commentary, “A Day will Come” as to what Glick is predicting might occur next Tuesday in Israel:

Posted on 01/15/2013 10:06 PM by Jerry Gordon

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