KANDAHAR, Afghanistan – Taliban insurgents dug a more than 1,050-foot (320-meter) tunnel underground and into the main jail in Kandahar city and whisked out more than 450 prisoners, most of whom were Taliban fighters, officials and the insurgents said Monday.
The massive jailbreak overnight in Afghanistan's second-largest city serves as a reminder of the Afghan government's continuing weakness in the south, despite an influx of international troops, funding and advisers. Kandahar city, in particular, has been a focus of the international effort to establish a strong Afghan government presence in former Taliban strongholds.
The 1,200-inmate Sarposa Prison has been part of that plan. The facility has undergone security upgrades and tightened procedures following a brazen 2008 Taliban attack that freed 900 prisoners. Afghan government officials and their NATO backers have regularly said that the prison has vastly improved security since that attack.
But on Sunday night, around 475 prisoners streamed out of a tunnel dug between the prison and the outside and disappeared into Kandahar city, prison supervisor Ghulam Dastagir Mayar said. He said the majority of the missing were Taliban militants.
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said insurgents on the outside dug the 1,050-foot (320-meter) tunnel to the prison over five months, bypassing government checkpoints and major roads. The tunnel finally reached the prison cells Sunday night, and the inmates were ushered through it to freedom by three prisoners who had been informed of the plan, Mujahid said.
He said more than 500 inmates were freed, and that about 100 of them were Taliban commanders.
Four of those who escaped were provincial-level Taliban commanders, said Qari Yousef Ahmadi, another Taliban spokesman
The highest-profile Taliban inmates would likely not be held at Sarposa. The U.S. keeps detainees it considers a threat at a facility outside of Bagram Air Base in eastern Afghanistan. Other key Taliban prisoners are held by the Afghan government in a high-security wing of the main prison in Kabul.
A man who Taliban spokesmen said was one of the inmates who helped organize the escape from the inside said a group of inmates obtained copies of the keys to the cells ahead of time.
"There were four or five of us who knew that our friends were digging a tunnel from the outside," said Mohammad Abdullah, who said he had been in Sarposa prison for two years after being captured in nearby Zhari district with a stockpile of weapons. "Some of our friends helped us by providing copies of the keys. When the time came at night, we managed to open the doors for friends who were in other rooms."
I wonder if "our friends" included prison guards, chaplains, or other prison personnel? Will Afghan authorities really investigate? Will U.S. authorities really pressure them to?
He said they woke the inmates up four or five at a time to get them out quietly. Abdullah spoke by phone on a number supplied by a Taliban spokesman. His account could not be immediately verified.
The governor of Kandahar province confirmed at least 475 escaped and said that a search operation is going on to recapture them.
"Some of the prisoners have already been recaptured," Gov. Tooryalai Wesa said. He did not provide further details.
Asked how the tunnel was dug without anyone noticing, Wesa said only that the incident was still under investigation.
In the 2008 attack, dozens of militants on motorbikes and two suicide bombers assaulted the prison. One suicide bomber set off an explosives-laden tanker truck at the prison gate while a second bomber blew up an escape route through a back wall. About 900 inmates escaped, including 400 Taliban fighters.
Once again we see that jihadis in prison often see an early end to their sentence, whether by commutation to celebrate some Islamic holiday or another, by "compassionate release" on medical grounds, or by escapes while guards look the other way.
LA Times: CAIR Backs Olive Tree Initiative in UCAL system â€“ a risk to life, limb and student minds
Olive Tree Initiaitve and Hamas from Fousesqwak
The liberal Los Angeles Times weighed in this weekend on the mindless risky Olive Tree initiative (OTI) program spawned at U.C. Irvine using funds from major Jewish donors via the Rose Project of the Orange County (California) Jewish Federation. The LA Times article, “Olive Tree Initiative aims to hear both sides in Middle East conflict” revealed the fecklessness of U.C. Irvine students and the support of CAIR given the risks of traveling and schmoozing with enemies of the Jewish State of Israel seeking its destruction like Hamas. Witness these excerpts:
Since its inception, the group has organized three university trips and two community trips. Fifteen to 20 UCI students go on the two-week trip, splitting their time equally between Israel and the Palestinian territories.
"I think OTI is a really great example of an innovative campus program that has developed a really constructive way of addressing campus tension," said Megan Braun, a UCI graduate who went on the 2010 trip.
Other UC campuses, such as UC Santa Barbara, UC Santa Cruz and UCLA, have taken a cue from OTI's accomplishments by starting chapters of their own.
[. . .]
To the group of 15 to 20 students who make the yearly summer trip to the Middle East, they think that the publicity about the incident distracts from OTI's mission, which isn't to take sides or point fingers, but to start an intellectual dialogue with those representing different perspectives.
"For many OTI members, investing ourselves in an organization based on education rather than advocacy … can be difficult, as it becomes a source of controversy and criticism from our respective communities," said OTI member Armaan Rowther.
Braun believes the 2009 meeting has allowed them to put one of their many fundamental beliefs to the test: listening to all sides.
Although she does not agree with the moral or political position of Hamas, she said, it does not mean that students cannot engage with that group academically.
"I think it would be impossible to claim we can understand the area without considering Hamas," she said. "If you really want to understand that region, then that narrative needs to be part of the overall study and experience."
Isaac Yerushalmi, a former OTI member who is now studying in Israel, hopes people understand that OTI will always be non-partisan and educational.
"Educational initiatives like the Olive Tree Initiative are a friend to all those who seek peace and coexistence in the region — Israelis and Arabs, Jews, Muslims and Christians alike," he said in an e-mail.
Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), believes the students are pioneering an important educational project by engaging with the region hands-on.
"You're dealing with people that are in conflict with each other," said Ayloush, whose organization is based in Anaheim. "It's not about agreeing with them," he said. "It's about hearing the unique narratives of each of the sides there and learning how to maneuver around it to get the parties closer together to promote peace."
Dee Sterling of Ha – Emet, the OC Task Force on Anti-Semitism, Gary Fouse of the Fousesqwaks blog and colleague Debra Glazer in a Pajamas Media piece have weighed in this weekend on this staggeringly stupid program.
Sterling of Ha-Emet in an email expressed the ironic opinion this was ‘good news’ that the Rose project backers of the OTI program at U.C.Irvine, and the leaders of the Orange County Jewish federation had the support of Muslim Brotherhood front group, CAIR. CAIR was identified as an unindicted co-conspirator in the 2008 Federal Dallas trial and convictions of the leadership of the Holy Land Foundation that according to 1993 World Trade Bombing trial federal prosecutor, Andy McCarthy, had funneled upwards of $36 million to Hamas, a foreign terrorist organization designated by our government.
Following this line of thinking, one must wonder if OTI employs this sort of naive logic with the Klu Klux Klan or other dangerous white supremacist groups? Hamas is virulently anti-Semitic and dedicated to the destruction of the state of Israel. Meanwhile, despite OTI’s “efforts”, nothing has changed on campus.
This misguided venture is proving to be much more than a slanted project in favor of the Palestinian narrative. It is a disaster and a tragedy waiting to happen. And when it does, the lawyers will be standing by licking their chops.
The following headline is fictitious, but just imagine a story like this in your newspaper (or laptop) sometime in 2011 or later:
“Bodies of 12 UC Students Found Headless in West Bank Town”
An official of the Palestinian Authority announced today that 12 headless bodies, believed to be students from the University of California’s Olive Tree Initiative program, have been located in the town of Nablus in the West Bank. The students were kidnapped over one week ago by Hamas terrorists, and efforts to secure their release were apparently unsuccessful. Hamas has announced that the slain students admitted in the moments before their execution that they were “Jewish, Christian, or Hindu infidels.” Hamas has issued a statement claiming that they continue to hold the other 6 OTI students, believed to be Moslem, as ransom for the release of several of their fighters who have been imprisoned by the Palestinian Fatah party. The president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, has assured the university that its forces are looking for the 6 kidnapped students and will bring the perpetrators of these crimes to justice. He also stated that the actions of Hamas do not advance the goals of the Palestinian people.
Is this horrible imagined event improbable? Not when you recall that, as has recently been disclosed pursuant to a California Public Records Act filing , UC Irvine’s Olive Tree Initiative students met with Aziz Duwaik during their 2009 trip.
Duwaik is a representative of Hamas who serves as speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council. Hamas actually contends that he (and not Mahmoud Abbas) is the president of the Palestinian Authority. The United States does not recognize his claim to the presidency, largely because Hamas is on the U.S.’s list of terrorist organizations.
In addition, Duwaik served time in Israeli prisons for almost 3 years, and was released only a few weeks before his meeting with the students. Hamas detests America and Americans, and has special antipathy towards Jews, whose genocide it calls for in the Hamas Charter. It is not too far-fetched to imagine that this group of unarmed students might quickly have found themselves surrounded and overwhelmed by terrorists who had decided to use them as pawns in the never-ending internecine warfare among Palestinian factions.
Glazer went on to underline the risk exposures to the UCAL system and students that we had earlier raised:
We wonder if they have thought through the consequences, and if they have undertaken the requisite risk assessment of these feckless projects. Have they purchased kidnap, ransom, and torture insurance? Have they obtained waivers and indemnification from the participants, and have they received written opinions from credible counsel that the waivers and indemnification will stand up in court? They may want to take a look at their directors and officers liability policies while they’re at it. As a business attorney, I routinely advise clients to review their insurance coverages in light of their actual business operations. That is obviously an elementary and prudent step to take.
And, by the way, meeting with Hamas may have violated U.S. law. Not only that, but having the OTI faculty and advisors instruct the students to conceal the meeting, as disclosed in the October 2009 letter, may have violated U.S. and Israeli law, not to mention the university’s own policies of professorial conduct. Plus, it reeks of cover-up by all parties involved, including the Jewish Federation which failed to disclose this meeting with its own disgruntled community. The university, the Jewish Federation, and other supporters of OTI programs should be consulting with their compliance departments as well as with their risk managers.
If they haven’t assessed the risk and purchased enough coverage, which in and of itself is a very costly proposition, the taxpayers of California, as well as the generous donors to the Jewish Federation of Orange County, may be in for a great shock when they learn the extent of the multi-million dollar liabilities that these enterprises may someday face.
The LA Times piece shows how dangerously feckless the liberal media is in fostering the delusion that by sending young naïfs into harm’s way, that you can understand "both sides." While we have written about this potentially explosive risk, the message has yet to sink in to the minds of Jewish community leaders and UCAL system officials. In light of the recent Fogel family slaughter and Joseph Tomb killing of an Israeli in the West Bank and the execution of Italian International Solidarity Movement Palestinian advocate, Vittorio Arrigoni in Gaza, you would have thought that the a probable risk of exposure would have dawned in the minds of U.C. Irvine and its Chancellor. Apparently not.
When one of these OTI aficionados gets kidnapped or killed, the UCAL system will be sued for wrongful death amid an ensuing scandal with much public hand wringing in the liberal media, after the fact. That Jewish funders and Jewish organizations are backing this looming train wreck waiting to happen is unimaginable and appalling. Perhaps we need a courageous attorney like former USDOJ Office of Special Investigations prosecutor, New York lawyer Neal Sher to bring a pre-emptive cause of action to bring this charade to a halt, permanently.
University research fellow Brian Dodgeon has been arrested after 15-year-old Isobel Clara Reilly died and three of her friends were treated in hospital having allegedly taking ecstasy during a party at his house in west London.
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Brian Dodgeon was arrested by Scotland Yard on suspicion of drug possession and also on suspicion of child abandonment
By Mark Hughes and Duncan Gardham25 Apr 2011
Isobel Clara Reilly died after taking drugs at the North Kensington home of Brian Dodgeon, a 60-year-old researcher at the University of London, it is alleged.
The girl had been at a party hosted by Mr Dodgeon’s daughter, 14-year-old Beatrice Hadjipateras.
Sources said that at the party on Friday night — which was attended by about 10 teenagers — Isobel and Beatrice had found ecstasy and other drugs, believed to be ketamine and LSD, that are thought to have belonged to Mr Dodgeon and, along with two 14-year-old boys, had taken the drugs.
The group called 999 at about 4am on Saturday after Isobel, known as Issy by her friends, stopped breathing. She was pronounced dead later that morning.
Beatrice and the two 14-year-old boys were taken to hospital. Last night they were said to be in a stable condition but remained under observation.
Mr Dodgeon, who works at the University of London’s Institute of Education, was arrested by Scotland Yard on suspicion of drug possession and also on suspicion of child abandonment after allegedly leaving his daughter at home alone.
Since 1994 he has worked part-time while pursuing a parallel career as a teacher of the Alexander Technique from his home. The technique is an alternative therapy designed to help patients improve their posture.
Mr Dodgeon has also performed as a singer, specialising in 1930s-style cabaret, and as an experimental “postmodern” dancer.
Beatrice’s mother, Angela, was not arrested, and was at her daughter’s bedside. But police sources said they were investigating whether she should be arrested on suspicion of child abandonment.
Neighbours of the property — which is close to the home of Michael Gove, the Education Secretary — said the two adults had warned them on Friday afternoon that they were going out that evening and that there would be a party at their house that was likely to be noisy.
Last night Isobel’s parents, Patrick Reilly and Lynne Jones, both 55, released a tribute to their daughter, saying that they hoped her death would serve as a warning to other youngsters experimenting with drugs.
They said: “Isobel’s family and friends are devastated and heartbroken by her untimely death. We hope that if anything positive comes from this dreadful event, it is that others will make the right decisions to be safe and well in the future.
“We would very much appreciate time to grieve for our beloved Issy in private. If anyone has any information concerning Issy’s death could they please contact the police.”
Friends of Isobel, who attended the Chiswick Community School, posted tributes on Facebook. A memorial is planned today with more than 200 teenagers expected to attend.
One girl wrote: “I wish you could walk into school on Tuesday with your bright blue shiny eyes, your long red hair and your gorgeous smile. But that isn’t going to happen. I can’t wait to see you when it’s my turn.” Tony Ryan, the head teacher of the school said: “Isobel was an extremely popular girl at our school and counted many of her fellow pupils as friends. Her tragically early death is devastating news to everyone associated with the school and all our thoughts are with her family at this time.
“As pupils and staff return to school this week following the Easter holidays, we must now focus on assisting all those affected to come to terms with this terrible course of events.” The debate over the safety of ecstasy was brought into sharp focus in 1995 when 18-year-old Leah Betts died after taking an ecstasy pill. An inquest showed she had been killed by drinking a large amount of water while under the influence of the drug.
In 2009 the UK Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, the body that advises the Government, recommended that ecstasy be downgraded to a class B drug. But the recommendation was rejected by the Home Office.
Prof David Nutt, who headed the council at the time, said the drug was no more dangerous than horse riding.
Mr Dodgeon has lived at the £1 million Victorian terrace house since 2004 and has a 27-year-old son called George.
Mr Dodgeon studied at Bristol University, where he gained a first-class honours degree in pure maths and postgraduate diplomas in social administration and applied social studies.
In the 1970s he ran a shelter for homeless men, and later worked as an inner-city social worker, welfare rights adviser and campaigner. Mr Dodgeon also worked as a social worker for Hammersmith and Fulham council.
At the Institute of Education, Mr Dodgeon works on a project called the National Child Development Study. He joined the institute in 1990 as a research fellow specialising in the computing aspect of the Office for National Statistics’ Longitudinal Study. He speaks French and Spanish.
A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said last night: “Police have launched an investigation following the unexplained death of a 15-year-old girl in west London.
“A 60-year-old man was arrested by police investigating the incident on suspicion of possession of drugs and child abandonment. He was subsequently bailed to return on a date in June.”
WHEN people part these days they often say to one another: “Take care.” Take care of what, exactly?
The farewell seems to imply that the world is full of hidden dangers of which it is necessary to be wary: in fact, you can’t be wary enough and if anything ill should befall you it will be your own fault for not having been careful enough. Actually, for most of us, the world is safe as never before. We have far fewer deaths on the roads, for example, than we had when there were only a 50th of the number of vehicles in the country. You have only to read old hospital records to realise how rare by comparison with a century ago are burns, poisonings, crush injuries from falling buildings, drownings by shipwreck and so forth.
But if we are safer than ever we are also more highly insured than ever. It is as if our fears increased with our safety: oddly enough dangers seem less real when they are genuinely present. The imaginary is stronger than the real. Just this week the courts have found that banks sold, and millions of people bought, expensive but useless payment protection insurance on their loans. The insurance was useless either because it was not needed or because it could never have been claimed against.
Hardly a week goes by without an invitation to take out some new kind of insurance coming through the letter-box. A dreadful possibility is dangled before your eyes and made to look as probable as possible. You are invited to insure against an eventuality on special terms, available to you only if you reply by this time next week, for a knock-down rate. For only £5.59 a week you can be insured against being crushed to death by your neighbour’s pet boa constrictor, and your relict will receive £28,500 in the unhappy event that you are.
Her economic future will be secure against your death by snakes. It is a fact of human nature that no one reads the small print of an insurance policy. If someone told you that he had read every last clause in the small print of each and every one of his insurances, you would conclude not that he was a prudent man but that he must be very bored indeed. Or a crook.
I once knew someone who was claiming medical insurance falsely but complained about the procedure used to unmask him. He knew that, according to the insurance industry’s rules, a complainant must be paid, non-refundably, while his complaint is investigated. He knew that insurance companies are lumbering giants that take a long time to investigate. The crooks, unlike most people, have studied the rules. This means that we often take out more insurances than we need. In fact you can insure yourself only once against any possibility, the other times being redundant. For example, if you insure the contents of your house twice against theft, you will not collect twice the money when things are stolen.
If it comes to light that you are over-insured the insurance companies will more likely argue as to which of them is liable, thus delaying settlement. At the same time as we over-insure we are inclined to find, when something untoward happens, that we are simultaneously under-insured: that the very thing that has happened to us or to our property is the very thing to which an exclusion clause applies. Health insurance companies are notorious for this. Like many people I have numerous policies, probably more than I remember.
Some of these policies are as complicated as the financial instruments devised by Wall Street. I am insured against losing my no-claims bonuses on my policies if I do claim on them – but if I do claim on them I lose my insurance against losing my no-claims bonus on them. Perhaps then I could (or should) insure against losing my insurance against losing my noclaims bonus if I claim on my policies. There seems to be the possibility here of an infinite regress of policies.
I am also insured (on some of my policies) against the legal costs that might arise if I have to sue the insurance company because I dispute the settlement of a claim that it offered on one of my policies. The maze at Hampton Court is like a beeline by comparison. Of course if I once use this insurance I lose it, or retain it only at very high cost. We are prey to insurance salesmen because we fret about every possibility however remote it might be.
When we hear the story of one man who had a bizarre accident it is much more real in our mind than the fact that a million people did not have and never will have such bad luck. “What if?” I’d better be on the safe side and insure myself against it. Only when I have insured myself against every possibility can I feel completely safe and safety is next to health which is next to godliness.
Leaked files accuse BBC of being part of a 'possible propaganda media network'
The files, obtained by the WikiLeaks website and passed to The Daily Telegraph, disclose that a phone number of someone at the BBC was found in the phone books and phones of a number of extremists seized by US forces. Just one number? Only one person?
A detainee assessment, dated 21 April 2007, states: "The London, United Kingdom (UK), phone number 0044 207 XXX XXXX was discovered in numerous seized phone books and phones associated with extremist-linked individuals.
“The number is associated with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).” Analysis by The Daily Telegraph suggests the number is one for Bush House, home of the BBC World Service.
The assessment continues that US forces uncovered many “extremist links” to this number, suggesting that extremists could have made contact with BBC employees who were sympathetic to extremists or had information on “ACM [anti-Coalition Militia] operations”.
The Daily Telegraph rang the phone number on Monday. A single tone on the line suggested that it had been disconnected, or was no longer in use.
The possible link between extremism and staff at the BBC will anger the national broadcaster, which prides itself on its impartiality. No it doesn't - it prides itself on its diversity and political correctness.
Andrew Marr later told the newspaper: “The BBC is not impartial or neutral. It’s a publicly funded, urban organisation with an abnormally large number of young people, ethnic minorities and gay people. It has a liberal bias not so much a party-political bias. It is better expressed as a cultural liberal bias.”
Easter Sunday Becomes Raisin Sunday When Paying The 'Rents A Visit
Prince William spent Easter Sunday at Bucklebury in Berkshire with the Middleton family, paying a visit to the parents as, once upon a time, both he and Catherine had to pay visits on Raisin Sunday in St. Andrews to offer the raisin-rent to their respective -- and no doubt now very respectful -- "parents."
He and Catherine Middleton met, you see -- you can't avoid reading about it -- at St. Andrews.
For this week's special -- because pre-nuptial -- assignment, instead of the usual analytical gobbet, compose a ballad that will include -- it might even start -- with these lines:
"When a bejant meets a bejantine/Coming through the yett"
Try to include the words semi, tertian, and magistrand. The latter may be allowed to rhyme with "strand."
Do not mention Louise Richardson, the very-sure-of-herself newish principal of St. Andrews, who made her initial career by writing a lot about a generic terrorism -- "What Terrorists Want" -- and carefully overlooking, rather than coming to grips with, what Islam inculcates about terror as a weapon against the Infidel.
If mentioning the North Sea, do not call it "unplumbed" or "salt" or "estranging."
However, if you have previously employed the phrase "peppercorn rent" you may then use the adjective "salt" to describe that distant northern sea.
ROME (AP) -- An agitated passenger aboard an Alitalia flight from Paris to Rome on Sunday night attacked a flight attendant and demanded the plane be diverted to Libya but other attendants subdued the man, the airline said.
The flight landed safely in the Italian capital as scheduled, Alitalia said in a statement. All 131 passengers aboard flight AZ329 disembarked safely in Rome.
"A clearly agitated passenger attacked a flight attendant, asking that the flight be diverted to Tripoli," Alitalia said. "Thanks to the prompt intervention of attendants, the aggressor was immobilized and (kept) in his seat, and the flight continued on to Rome," where it landed at 9:55 p.m. (1955 GMT) as scheduled, the airline said.
Alitalia didn't identify the passenger. The Italian news agency ANSA reported that he was a middle-aged man from Kazakhstan with no criminal record. ANSA said the man had brandished a nail-clipper against the flight attendant.
Police took the man into custody for questioning at Rome's Leonardo da Vinci airport, Alitalia said.
Alitalia said the female flight attendant was checked by staff at the airport's first-aid office as a precaution but she was reported to be unharmed.
The man's motive was not immediately known. Italian police were in contact with French authorities over the incident, ANSA said.
WikiLeaks: GuantÃ¡namo Bay terrorists radicalised in London to attack Western targets
At least 35 terrorists incarcerated at Guantánamo Bay were sent to fight against the West after being indoctrinated by extremist preachers in Britain, secret files obtained by The Daily Telegraph disclose.
Abu Qatada and Abu Hamza, two preachers who lived off state benefits after claiming asylum, are identified by the American authorities as the key recruiters responsible for sending dozens of extremists from throughout the world to Pakistan and Afghanistan via London mosques.
The leaked documents, written by senior US military commanders at Guantánamo Bay, illustrate how, for two decades, Britain effectively became a crucible of terrorism, with dozens of extremists, home-grown and from abroad, radicalised here.
The files will raise questions over why the Government and security services failed to take action sooner to tackle the capital’s reputation as a staging post for terrorism, which became so established that the city was termed “Londonistan”. We knew this, of course, but it bears repeating, ad nauseum, unti lthe truth sinks in.
The documents show that at least 35 detainees at Guantánamo had passed through Britain before being sent to fight against Allied forces in Afghanistan. This is thought to be more than from any other Western nation.
Of those, 18 were originally from abroad. The other 17 were British nationals or citizens granted residency here after claiming asylum, who were indoctrinated before being sent to terrorist training camps in Afghanistan.
The Government has paid millions of pounds in compensation and benefits to people regarded as highly dangerous by the US authorities.
Four mosques in London and an Islamic centre are highlighted as places where young Muslim men were radicalised and turned into potential terrorists.
One of them is Finsbury Park Mosque but which are the other three? I want to know.
The background on Obama’s 2009 and 2010 diplomatic offensives against Israel are now well-known enough that the narrative is inching toward conventional wisdom. The president entered the White House intent on putting daylight between the United States and the Jewish state. He choose settlements as a wedge issue designed to split Netanyahu from the Israeli public and topple the government, in the process changing the widely understood interpretation of “settlement freeze” from “no expansion outside existing blocs” to “no Jewish construction over the Green Line even in Jerusalem.” Either Netanyahu would halt all construction and lose the Israeli right, the thinking went, or he would put himself on the wrong side of the United States president and lose the Israeli center. Satisfyingly clever.
Of course the administration’s reading of Israeli polling data was flat wrong, and even Israeli opposition chairwoman Tzipi Livni insisted that Jerusalem was a consensus issue. The Israeli public rallied behind Netanyahu, while distrust in Obama and his reliability as an ally — a precondition to Israel taking risks for peace — skyrocketed. But having categorically stated that it was simply impossible for the Palestinians to negotiate while Jews built schools and supermarkets in East Jerusalem, the White House couldn’t then admit that a “full freeze” was just a gambit meant to weaken Netanyahu. So that continued to be the official U.S. position through the end of 2010, until the White House had to nuance the counterproductive request. Of course by that time Palestinian negotiators, unable to be less anti-Israel than the U.S. president, had incorporated it as a precondition for talks. They didn’t have the option of abandoning it when the White House did, and the peace process remained moribund.
[Abbas] told me bluntly that Obama had led him on, and then let him down by failing to keep pressure on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for a moratorium on settlement building in the West Bank last year. “It was Obama who suggested a full settlement freeze,” Abbas explained. “I said OK, I accept. We both went up the tree. After that, he came down with a ladder and he removed the ladder and said to me, jump. Three times he did it.”
The question, as always, isn’t just about the decision but about the decision-making process. Which obviously clumsy advisers convinced the president that the strategy was sound, and are they still prognosticating on Israeli calculations and Palestinian intentions? What obviously inaccurate assumptions were they using, and are those beliefs still guiding our Middle East policymaking? Because generally when someone charts a course that’s flawed in precisely predictable ways, when they dismiss those precise objections with specific justifications, and when they turn out to be precisely wrong — they generally get replaced. But there’s not much evidence that ever happened.
Of course it’s difficult to know from the outside where exactly things went awry, and who was making up which anti-Israel pretexts. The administration’s foreign policy is a hodgepodge of institutionalized ideology and wishful thinking, with various factions all vying for the president’s ear and trying to be unwittingly wrong in their own special way.
There are old peace-process hands who interpret obsolete data through outmoded preconceptions, and who suggest tactics that are too clever by half and misguided in full. There are anti-Israel Jewish activists who whine about exclusion while insisting that they represent American Jewry, and who leverage their access to the president to peddle fantasies about American Jewish sentiments. There are multilateralists who resent having to defend our only stable Middle Eastern ally from global hostility, and gesture vaguely at ad-hoc international solutions and national credibility. There are diplomats and scholars whose institutional importance rises and falls as a function of the centrality of the Arab world, and who overstate the moderation of Arab governments while understating the pathology of the Arab Street.
And that’s before we get to the quotidian antipathy that many in the administration harbor toward the Israelis, an antipathy that apparently makes any anti-Israel reasoning — no matter how thin — seem like the height of sophistication.
Poll: Over half of Egypt wants end to Israel peace
Ah, the pungeant fragrance of the unintended consequences of fostering democracy in Dar al-Islam. Mubarek was a savage Muslim tyrant, but he was able to keep the even more savage Muslims of Egypt at bay through his tyrannical excesses. Now that the blossoming of "Arab Spring" has brought democracy to Egypt, we get to see just how moderate those moderates who overthrew him really are. By Paul Schemm for AP:
CAIRO – More than half of all Egyptians would like to see the 1979 peace treaty with Israel annulled, according to results of a poll conducted by the U.S.-based Pew Research Center released Monday.
The poll highlights the deep unpopularity of the three-decade-old treaty, which is central to U.S. policy in the region and was scrupulously adhered to by former President Hosni Mubarak, until his Feb. 11 ouster.
The poll also revealed that most Egyptians are optimistic about where the country is headed following the 18-day popular uprising that brought down the president, and they look forward to greater democracy in their country.
And where do most Egyptians feel that their country is headed, that fills them with such optimism? Toward a tolerant pluralism, or toward a stricter implementation of sharia? See below for some answers.
The fall of Egypt's autocratic leader and the rise of a more democratic system, however, could threaten relations with neighboring Israel.
According to the poll results, only 36 percent of Egyptians are in favor of maintaining the treaty, compared with 54 percent who would like to see it scrapped.
Despite the decades of peace and limited trade between the two countries, most Egyptian view the Israelis poorly, largely because of perceptions that they mistreat the Palestinians.
No, most Egyptians view the Jews of Israel poorly because of the Islamic view of Jews and Judaism, as laid out by Mohammad in the Qur'an and the ahadith. The "apes and pigs" line predates the Camp David accords by over a millenium.
Opinions varied according to income, with 60 percent of lower income Egyptians supporting the treaty's cancellation while only 45 percent of the wealthier classes thinking it should be done away with.
Only 40 percent of Egyptians with a college education felt the treaty should be scrapped, as well.
The poll, based on interviews with 1,000 Egyptians around the country, was conducted between March 24 and April 7 as part of the Spring 2011 Pew Global Attitudes survey held in 22 countries.
The conservative Islamist Muslim Brotherhood and the largely secular April 6 movement — two groups closely involved in the uprising, had the highest approval ratings in society, with over 70 percent seeing them in a very or somewhat favorable light.
The United States continued to garner low approval ratings, with only 20 percent of Egyptians seeing it in a positive light, up from 17 percent in 2010.
Only 15 percent of those interviewed thought Egypt should have closer relations with the U.S. — as opposed to 43 percent who though the two countries could use some distance.
The report summary can be seen here. Some additional points:
Just 36% of Egyptians feel that it is important for Egyptian minority religions like Coptic Christians to be able to freely practice their faith. Keep in mind that 15-20% of Egyptians ARE Coptic Christians, and that leaves just ~10% of Egyptian Muslims who feel that it is important.
50% of Egyptians feel it is important that religious parties (like Muslim Brotherhood) can be part of the government.
62% of Egyptians want the laws to "strictly follow the Qur'an". An additional 27% want laws that "follow the values and principles of Islam". Just 5% want laws that are "not influenced by the Qur'an".
The Muslim Brotherhood is the second most popular political party, after the comparatively less-religious New Wafd party.
Whether Egyptian Muslims say that they "agree with fundamentalists", "disagree with fundamentalists", or "Both/Neither", they all agree more than 50% that the peace treaty with Israel should be annulled (51%, 51%, and 58% respectively).