Positive Results from the Arab Spring


One of the biggest world wide problems has been how to bring peace to the Middle East and especially to the Holy Lands of the Fertile Crescent.  Parties on both sides of the conflict have obfuscated their goals and concerns, which has only led to slaughter and conflict for almost a century.  One of the points of contention has been what Israel claims is Palestinians refusal to recognize Israel’s right to exist and to cease hostilities towards the Jewish state.

All of the Palestinian parties have met those conditions, except one, Hamas….so claim the Israelis, and now they too might have come around.

Jane’s, an internationally respected British security and defense risk-analysis firm, has recently reported that Hamas, the Palestinian militant group, is on “the brink of renouncing armed resistance and moving to a policy of nonviolent resistance to Israel.” Jane’s, with which I have been a monthly writer to three of its publications since 2007, has several hard-to-ignore quotes in its report of Hamas leaders saying that the move was not “tactical” but “strategic.” Also interviewed are Palestinian Authority intelligence officers who said that Hamas’s strategy was “gradual and nuanced,” with one senior officer telling Jane’s that Hamas “intends to keep its military and security units to control the situation in Gaza, not necessarily to fight the Israelis.” The interviewees’ names were not mentioned for obvious security reasons.

I urge every subscriber to Jane’s to read that groundbreaking piece of reporting because, even if it is not publicly confirmed yet by Hamas’s leadership, it has all the makings of a fascinating story which I am positive will generate an intense debate not only in the Arab world and Israel but also in Washington and other Western capitals. The story is starting to get serious attention in the international press with the Financial Times, Sydney Herald Tribune and other media outlets covering it.

The report, written by my friend and colleague David Hartwell, Jane’s Middle East and Islamic affairs editor, argues that the springboard for this new strategic approach by Hamas is the Arab uprising. More directly, Egypt, Qatar and Turkey reportedly played a key role in convincing Hamas to reconcile with its historical rival Fatah and end armed resistance against Israel. Hartwell writes that Hamas leader Khaled Meshal, in a meeting on November 24 in Cairo with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, accepted “in writing with a signature” the need to embrace peaceful activism. And if this is not controversial enough, echoing Syrian opposition leader Burhan Ghalioun, Hamas’s leadership also told Jane’s that it will be “downgrading its ties with Syria and Iran and forge new relationships with Egypt, Qatar, and Turkey.”

In some ways, perhaps, this development could have been foreseen. Even the most ideological and stubborn actors in the Middle East have been forced to adjust to the new political realities created by the Arab uprising. Hezbollah in Lebanon, for example, has been feeling increasingly vulnerable and isolated lately because of the escalating civil conflict in Syria and the threat that poses to its ally, the Syrian regime. Hezbollah recently made significant concessions at home, including its approval of funding for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon—an entity that Hezbollah’s leadership for years had viewed as a tool used by Israel and the United States to defeat it. Other signs of Hezbollah’s contemplation of life after Syrian president Bashar Assad include its decision to move most of its military hardware that has been stored in Syria back to areas under its control inside Lebanon, including the South and the Bekaa.

Yet despite its evident tactical adjustments, Hezbollah hasn’t suggested any intent to disarm, forge new strategic alliances or end its military struggle against Israel. In fact, in a rare public appearance this month, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah declared that his party will remain defiant, side with Assad’s Syria and never relinquish its arms. If Hamas, an ally of Hezbollah, Syria and Iran (the so-called Resistance Axis), truly intends to reinvent itself, that would be a historic development with massive political and security implications not just for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but also for the whole of Middle East politics.

There are numerous questions surrounding Hamas’s reported decision, the most obvious being why it could have possibly adopted such a stance. It is one thing to say that Hamas felt motivated and/or pressured by Turkey, Egypt and Qatar to renounce violence. But it takes much more for an organization to abandon everything it has stood for and create for itself a new identity. After all, Saudi Arabia and Egypt have tried countless times in the past to shape Hamas and lure it, with financial and political rewards, to leave the pro-Iran-Syria-Hezbollah camp and give up armed struggle. The strategy did not work simply because Hamas felt it had much more to lose than gain. The Resistance Axis was always on the rise, especially after the 2003 Iraq war as Iran and Syria gained influence in the region at the expense of their rivals.

No more. Today, with Iran feeling more cornered by the international community (minus Russia and China) than ever because of its controversial nuclear program and with Syria’s regime fighting an existential battle against its own people, the balance of power is shifting in the Middle East, and this has not gone unnoticed by Hamas. It is foolish to deny that Hamas’s decisions and behavior have been partly driven by ideological convictions and motivations, but it is also wrong to argue the organization has not acted rationally, based on material interest. The decision it reportedly has currently taken may be further proof of that.

While it is important to remember that Hamas’s leadership has not gone public with its decision, it is worth noting that the majority of its external political staff has already evacuated Damascus, where it has a key office managed by Meshal. Their next destination is likely to be Cairo and Doha, where leaders there have committed to sponsoring the movement politically and financially. Unlike Hezbollah, Hamas has refused to say publicly that it is siding with the Syrian regime, a move that has angered not only the Syrian leadership but also the mullahs in Tehran—causing them, according to Jane’s and other sources, to stop providing financial assistance. With money drying up and winds of change rocking the region, it is no wonder Hamas was fed up with Syria and Iran. One also cannot exclude the sectarian underpinnings of Hamas’s decision. While Hamas never allowed its religious identity—Sunni—to prevent it from forming necessary and strategic alliances with Shiite Iran and Hezbollah, the party is pragmatic enough to realize that positioning itself against the Sunni Islamist tide that is currently sweeping the region (in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, possibly Syria and elsewhere) is against its long-term interests. Having operated in the Iranian strategic orbit in the past, Hamas might now wish to embrace its old identity as a branch of the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood.

Hamas’s decision, if real, will take time to implement. Since its founding in 1987, the organization’s bread-and-butter stance has been armed resistance coupled with terrorist activity. Should Hamas’s leadership publicly state its new strategy, the first thing it will have to do is come up with a new charter as evidence to the world that its move is not propaganda. The organization will also need substantial help from Arab countries and others interested in such a development. The world, including the United States, will not accept Hamas’s transformation if it is half-hearted. In other words, Hamas will have to integrate its military into the security forces of the Palestinian Authority in order to get the attention and support it desires.

The implications of such a Hamas decision could be huge. Theoretically, it will create a united Palestinian front. In other words, there would be few divisions within Palestinian society to inhibit progress in negotiations with the Israelis, a major boost for the Palestinian cause. Two things remain unclear, however: how Hamas’s constituency and Israel would deal with this massive shift. It is not unreasonable to assume that Hamas would not make such a dramatic move without testing the waters and feeling the mood in the Palestinian street. Hamas knows its constituency well enough to realize that the costs it might suffer as a result of such a decision are likely to be tolerable. Furthermore, Hamas’s support base is not necessarily ideological. Many credible polls suggest that those who have voted for Hamas over the past few years have done so out of pragmatic reasons and anger toward Fatah for its governmental failures. As far as Israel is concerned, the suspicion is that moderates and those truly committed to peace and a two-state solution will be supportive of Hamas’s transformation. The hard-liners will remain critical and will always find an excuse to object. Marking its twenty-fourth anniversary this week, Hamas leaders did not even hint that they may switch strategy. They insisted instead that they will never recognize Israel. For Israeli hard-liners, this is reason enough to remain skeptical of any move by Hamas.

If Hamas actually seeks to pursue such a decision, the United States will be confronted with a crucial choice. It can lend its verbal and material support for the move and cite its concerns and reservations. Or it can stand against it and endorse whatever the Israeli government says and does on the matter. Hence, a large onus likely will rest on Washington as well as on Hamas.

Despite these hopeful pronouncements, Israel is still belligerent.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu commented Sunday on the recent moves by Fatah and Hamas to set up a unity government, saying that Israel would not negotiate with the Palestinians should such a government be established.

“If Hamas joins the Palestinian government we will not hold negotiations with the Palestinian Authority,” said Netanyahu in a speech at a conference for Israeli ambassadors.

So it would appear, despite claims to the contrary, Israel is the impediment to peace in the region.  Because it is the most well equipped militarily and the most aggressive in incursions onto its neighbors territories, one should expect there will be more bloodshed and death at the hands of this recalcitrant US ally.

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Beware False Prophets


Julian Assange at New Media Days 09 in Copenhagen.

Image via Wikipedia

Wikileaks and Julian Assange have generated a media frenzy with its release of secret documents which detail the machinations of countries, diplomacy and war and in the process angered a lot of people, especially those here in the US.  What isn’t so well known is how easily Wikileaks and Assange himself have been co-opted by the government of Israel.  Take a look.

A number of commentators, particularly in Turkey and Russia, have been wondering why the hundreds of thousands of American classified documents leaked by the website last month did not contain anything that may embarrass the Israeli government, like just about every other state referred to in the documents. The answer appears to be a secret deal struck between the WikiLeaks “heart and soul”, as Assange humbly described himself once [1], with Israeli officials, which ensured that all such documents were ‘removed’ before the rest were made public.

According to an Arabic investigative journalism website [2], Assange had received money from semi-official Israeli sources and promised them, in a “secret, video-recorded agreement,” not to publish any document that may harm Israeli security or diplomatic interests.

The sources of the Al-Haqiqa report are said to be former WikiLeaks volunteers who have left the organisation in the last few months over Assange’s “autocratic leadership” and “lack of transparency.”

In a recent interview with the German daily Die Tageszeitung, former WikiLeaks spokesperson Daniel Domscheit-Berg said he and other WikiLeaks dissidents are planning to launch their own whistleblowers’ platform to fulfil WikiLeaks’s original aim of “limitless file sharing.” [3]

Mr Domscheit-Berg, who is about to publish a book about his days ‘Inside WikiLeaks’, accuses Assange of acting as a “king” against the will of others in the organisation by “making deals” with media organisations that are meant to create an explosive effect, which others in WikiLeaks either know little or nothing about. [4]

Furthermore, Assange’s eagerness for headline-grabbing scoops meant that WikiLeaks had not been able to ‘restructure’ itself to cope with this surge of interest, insiders add. This has meant that smaller leaks, which might be of interest to people at a local level, are now being overlooked for the sake of big stories. [5]

According to the Al-Haqiqa sources, Assange met with Israeli officials in Geneva earlier this year and struck the secret deal. The Israel government, it seems, had somehow found out or expected that the documents to be leaked contained a large number of documents about the Israeli attacks on Lebanon and Gaza in 2006 and 2008-9 respectively. These documents, which are said to have originated mainly from the Israeli embassies in Tel Aviv and Beirut, where removed and possibly destroyed by Assange, who is the only person who knows the password that can open these documents, the sources added.

Indeed, the published documents seem to have a ‘gap’ stretching over the period of July – September 2006, during which the 33-day Lebanon war took place. Is it possible that US diplomats and officials did not have any comments or information to exchange about this crucial event but spent their time ‘gossiping’ about every other ‘trivial’ Middle-Eastern matter?

Following the leak (and even before), Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a press conference that Israel had “worked in advance” to limit any damage from leaks, adding that “no classified Israeli material was exposed by WikiLeaks.” [6] In an interview with the Time magazine around the same time, Assange praised Netanyahu as a hero of transparency and openness! [7]

According to another report [8], a left-leaning Lebanese newspaper had met with Assange twice and tried to negotiate a deal with him, offering “a big amount of money”, in order to get hold of documents concerning the 2006 war, particularly the minutes of a meeting held at the American embassy in Beirut on 24th July 2006, which is widely considered as a ‘war council’ meeting between American, Israeli and Lebanese parties that played a role in the war again Hizbullah and its allies. The documents the Al-Akhbar editors received, however, all date to 2008 onwards and do not contain “anything of value,” the sources confirm. This only goes to support the Israel deal allegations.

Finally, it might be worth pointing out that Assange might have done what he is alleged to have done in order protect himself and ensure that the leaked documents are published so as to expose the American hypocrisy, which he is said to be obsessed with “at the expense of more fundamental aims.”

Why the outrage?


Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia

Image via Wikipedia

It appears Eric Cantor’s declaration to Benjamin Netanyahu that the Republican Party would, in essence, stand with Israel against the President of the United States has become somewhat of a news item.

Eric stressed that the new Republican majority will serve as a check on the Administration and what has been, up until this point, one party rule in Washington. He made clear that the Republican majority understands the special relationship between Israel and the United States, and that the security of each nation is reliant upon the other.

I like the one party rule reference, because in a way, the Republicans have  done nothing but obstruct the Democratic party’s initiatives since Obama came to office.  Remember, their stated policy/political goal, or rather as stated by Mitch O’Connell is to see that Obama is a one term president, so anything they can do to make him ineffective and look bad, is a plus for them!  But what is also obvious is the “talking point” of mutual reliance.

Despite the fact that America has lived as an independent country far longer than Israel, it appears we cannot live without them any longer; our survival depends on whether Israel survives goes the rational and no one seems to find that insulting.  What is apparent is that the Republican Party will magnify, out do the Democrats in pursuing the Israel agenda in Washington to the extent of becoming a lobbying agent for the government of Israel.  Those efforts at appealing to Israeli leadership most probably will include more wars of aggression against Israeli enemies, who are presently not ours, at the expense of the American economy and lives; already several Republican party members since the elections a few short weeks ago have called  for military action against Iran, while the Israeli economy prospers at the expense of America’s.

But what is truly pathetic about all the hoopla about Cantor’s remarks is the false indignation it has  raised. Cantor has indeed done something he and his Party once criticized those outside his Party for doing during the Bush years, but ever since Obama’s coming to power, the Republicans have taken unprincipled stands against this present Administration in attempts to score political points and the future  indicates the same strategy will prevail.  Let us not forget who Eric Cantor is.  He is quite comfortable with lying to suit his political agendas and wouldn’t hesitate to do so again for Israel which holds a special place in American politics.  She is able to carry out the most egregious crimes in our name yet still command, nay demand rapt attention from American politicians and dismissal for her illegal activity, as well as the full faith and backing of America’s financial institutions.  If you ask me, that’s where our outrage should be directed.  Cantor is just one of many in the political system who’ve taken us down that road.  Shame on him, yes, but shame on us for ignoring the bigger picture!

Foot in mouth award


Shimon Peres is the latest Israeli leader to be awarded.  Earlier, while Benjamin Netanyahu in an equally disgusting show of contempt for the people who make it possible for Israel to exist made disparaging remarks against America which didn’t even cause a ripple stateside, Peres’ remarks about British politicians being anti-semitic caused more of a firestorm in England.  Americans are so used to being bitch slapped by Israel we just sit back and take the abuse dished out by our scorned lover, but the British who practically gave Palestine to Europe’s Jewish community took umbrage at Peres’ remarks so much so that he had to deny he ever made them.

Peres’ initial remarks that he now denies making, included references to the influence of Muslims on British policy, as if influencing the policy of a government  is something Israel would never do to any western ally, but it clearly shows the Israeli government’s attacks on Islam extend far beyond the borders of Gaza and the West Bank.  It didn’t help Peres that the Tablet confirmed his remarks and the reasons behind them while he was trying to deny them, the fact is his denial is a lie.

This illustrates two things common in both Netanyahu and Peres’ attitude.  First they are extremely manipulative of western governments by asserting  Israel is a victim in the ongoing battles with its neighbors in which Israel is always the aggressor and second they are scornful of their state sponsors, who have all but guaranteed their existence at the expense of Israel’s neighbors, by even refusing to acknowledge this support, usually undertaken  at great expense to sponsor states but little or no expense to Israel.  The recipients of this award  for a baffling comment by a public figure goes to both Peres and Netanyahu.  Please don’t congratulate them.

Israeli hysteria at a press story? Say it ain’t so!


Palestinian_The European press likes to rattle the nerves of semites, Arab, Israeli, Jew, or Muslim.  We all know how the Dannish cartoons of the Prophet of God caused a big reaction in the Muslim world at a cost of world wide derision because for some reason or another people aren’t supposed to get upset about the insults hurled at their religious figures especially when done by members of the press.  The publication of the cartoons was done twice for maximum exposure to the Muslim world and the expected ridicule which they faced because of actions of their world wide protests.  However, the international community was told how what the Danish newspaper did was a free press issue and in order to be citizens of the 21st century this is the kind of exposure one should expect by a press whose job it is to reveal and expose issues to its readers no matter how inflammatory they may be or who gets upset in the process.

Well that pesky European press is at it again, and this time the Israeli semites are in its cross hairs and they are as mad as the Muslims ever were.  In fact, so mad they claim the article in question ‘shames Swedish democracy and the entire Swedish press’. Interesting reference to “democracy” wouldn’t you say?  I wonder what does Ministry spokesperson Yigal Palmor mean when he says an article in a free press Swedish newspaper “shames democracy”?  Ignoring the story, the Israeli government’s reaction has been to call the offending paper names and refer to a centuries old stereotype of Gentile blood sacrifice at the hands of Jews….dark blood libels from medieval times is how it was put by the Israeli spokesman, and perhaps they have a right to be angry, but where are all the calls for a free and independent media whose job it is to assess information and report it whether you like it or not.  What about the old saying, ‘where there’s smoke there’s fire’, and there’s plenty of smoke surrounding the sale of organs at the hands  of Jews and Israeli-Americans who claim to have organ donors from Israel.

Responsible journalism is a lot different from a free press.  The latter sometimes is a double edged sword as the Israelis have come to find out but it is the very basis of journalism.  Responsible press is the epitome of journalism and a lot harder to find; we should insist on it, but not count on it.  The Israelis are now complaining against the very thing which they have relied on for so long to forward their disinformation, or yellow journalism, and which during the Danish cartoon fiasco they so highly touted.  Israeli hypocrisy can be seen from a mile away.  Despite their protestations, like everybody else, they’re gonna’ have to sit and bear it and see if the market place of ideas is their enemy or their friend.  Welcome to the world of European journalism; a must in today’s world.  Now, take that!

Israel’s free fall descent into chaos


It’s not a pretty sight, and there are still years to go before Israel hits rock bottom and it’s people scattered, once again, into the Diaspora, despite their ‘never again’ cries; what precipitated it all was the enabling done by Israel’s allies.  We just couldn’t say no to them at all.  We didn’t even say no once, and like most other spoiled children who always get their way, Israel has become a sociopath nation without boundaries that wanders around looking for prey to attack so that it can call itself a victim.

It’s not enough that we’ve seen and heard the racist diatribe spew from the mouths of their youth, no doubt picked up at the dinner table from their parents.  Or that the average Israeli intimidates, bullies, assaults and defames all those who even  remotely disagree with them about the slightest little thing.   Or that they continuously violate international law and treaties regarding the occupied territories.  (Why is there any discussion about a two state solution, when that is the ONLY alternative since 1948?)  Now comes word that even Israeli politicians have drunk the Kool-Aide and are dangerously close to becoming psychotic and international pariahs.

First off, look at what this Likud party member says about what the Israeli relationship should be with the US.  Before you go and say this guy is the fringe, guess again.  Some say he’s the left leaning side of Likud, but what really caught my attention is he is a cabinet  member  without portfolio……the same designation and party of one Ariel Sharon after the disaster in Lebanon, called Sabra and Shatilla,  so many years ago.

In the 11-page letter, obtained by The Jerusalem Post from a minister on Monday, Peled recommends steps Israel can take to compensate for the shift in American policy, which he believes has become hostile to Israel.

“Obama’s ascendance represents a turning point in America’s approach to the region, especially to Israel,” he wrote in the letter. “The new administration believes that in order to fight terror, guarantee stability and withdraw from Iraq, a new diplomatic slant is needed involving drastic steps to pacify the Muslim world and the adoption of a more balanced approach to Israel, including intensive pressure to stop building in settlements, remove outposts and advance the formation of a Palestinian state.”

Peled added that faced with an American government with an activist agenda that does not mesh with Israel’s, traditional reactions are no longer relevant. He said he expected that Obama would eventually realize that appeasement and dialogue with countries that support terror would not have positive results.

But in the interim, the minister suggests reconsidering military and civilian purchases from the US, selling sensitive equipment that the Washington opposes distributing internationally, and allowing other countries that compete with the US to get involved with the peace process and be given a foothold for their military forces and intelligence agencies.

Peled said that shifting military acquisition to America’s competition would make Israel less dependent on the US. For instance, he suggested buying planes from the France-based Airbus firm instead of the American Boeing.

In what may be his most controversial suggestion, Peled recommends intervening in American congressional races to weaken Obama and asking American Jewish donors not to contribute to Democratic congressional candidates. He predicted that this would result in Democratic candidates pressuring Obama to become more pro-Israel.

Peled called for the formation of a new body intended to influence American public opinion. The groups he suggests courting include Hispanic Americans and Labor unions in industries that benefit from Israeli military acquisitions.

I would like to see Israel boycott American military hardware, and the American dollars they are given to buy that hardware.  Unfortunately, Mr. Peled thinks he is entitled to the latter and too many in American government agree with him.  I also note the centuries old conflict still being played out in the halls of political zionism which seeks to associate Islam with extremism in order to reduce its exposure to a western audience.  As you can see there’s a lot wrong with his wish list, but the one thing I find most egregious is his apparent attempt to use one group of Americans against another, a dressed up form of divide and conquer, to incite a race/class war or divide in the American body politic.  Does anyone else see something wrong with that?  American history is full of the struggle this country has gone through in accommodating, many times very poorly, the different races and ethnically diverse groups  on our shores, and with great human sacrifice; for someone to say that is worth exploiting for another country’s benefit is akin to sedition.  I hope Mr. Peled is on the Homeland Security Department’s no fly list because he should never step foot on American soil with that idea in mind.  The rest of the article is full of political zionist angst and sadly pathetic, but worth the read, in my opinion.

Meanwhile Benjamin Netanyahu has also joined the ranks of the “brain damaged” with his rant about self-hating American Jews.  You know where he’s going with that right?  Miscellany101 already mentioned how many Israelis expect American Jews to be subservient to Israeli interests even when they are at odds with American interests, and if they aren’t well then they get labeled the next worse label after anti-semite that political zionists can hurl at them, which is self-hating!

Netanyahu appears to be suffering from confusion and paranoia. He is convinced that the media are after him, that his aides are leaking information against him and that the American administration wants him out of office. Two months after his visit to Washington, he is still finding it difficult to communication normally with the White House. To appreciate the depth of his paranoia, it is enough to hear how he refers to Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod, Obama’s senior aides: as “self-hating Jews.”


Notice the reference to the lack of mental stability and this is who the Israelis voted for just six short months or so ago, which suggests to me a national sickness or mental illness. The bunker like mentality of Netanyahu is also a throwback to, and here it comes y’all, the days of Hitler, hunkering down in his bunker/tomb with the illusion of running a country that was in reality falling down around him. The falling down part is not what’s happening to Israel at the moment….it’s too early for that to happen, but the process has started and we who have said “yes” too often are to blame. One can only hope that as Israel continues its free fall, her  enablers don’t go down with the ship.

Hilarious


I was doing some surfing early today and ran across this article and laughed until tears ran down my face.  As an American, I simply don’t see how anyone could propose this with a straight face,  and its merely being stated is a sure sign the Israelis are NOT interested in peace.

A week after President Barack Obama’s address to the Muslim world, Netanyahu said the Palestinian state would have to be unarmed and recognize Israel as the Jewish state — a condition amounting to Palestinian refugees giving up the goal of returning to Israel.

With those conditions, he said, he could accept “a demilitarized Palestinian state alongside the Jewish state.”

That’s kinda like me telling my neighbor, I’ll accept him living next to me if he just turns in his firearms, because only I have a right to own them.  It’s not happening….and with such foolish conditions, neither will peace in the Middle East.  The Palestinians have practically given in to the other terms in the above quote; the right to self-defense would surely be the final nail in their coffin.  Accepting it would only realize the holocaust political zionism wants to impose on the people who occupy the land.