Sunday, August 30, 2009
In Irving, Texas, on New Year's Day 2008, Amina Said, 18, and her sister Sarah, 17, were shot to death by their father for having unsanctioned boyfriends.
In Canada, where hate speech laws are strangling public discussion of any unpleasant aspects of militant Islam, certain segments of the growing Muslim population are applying Sharia law to wayward females. About a dozen cases have arisen, according to Amin Muhammad, a professor at Memorial University in Newfoundland. A much-cited 2001 stat from the United Nations Population Fund estimates the worldwide number of "honor killings" at 5,000 annually.
In Kingston, Ontario, the Shafia sisters — Zainab, 19, Sahar, 17, and Geeti, 13, — were found dead in a submerged car on June 30, 2009, with their father's first wife, Rona Mohammed, 50. The sisters' parents and 18-year-old brother have been charged with four counts of first-degree murder in what police suspect is an honor killing.
In May, an Ottawa jury convicted an Indian native born to Afghan parents of gunning down his 20-year-old sister and her fiancé in 2006 because the couple had moved in together before their wedding.
On Dec. 10, 2007, Aqsa Parvez, a 16-year-old Ontario girl who fought with her parents over not wearing a hajib, was stabbed to death by her father in an honor killing while her mother held her down.
In St. John's, Newfoundland, a 14-year-old girl who had been a rape victim was strangled in 2004 by her father and brother in order to restore the family's honor.
In England, which is struggling with an aggressive Muslim minority demanding that the British legal system incorporates Sharia, a father and uncle were convicted on July 29, 2007 of arranging the torture, rape and murder of a 20-year-old Kurdish immigrant woman who had walked out of a marriage arranged when she was 17 and had fallen in love with another man.
The killings are hauntingly similar to events taking place in largely Muslim countries.
The Jordan Times reports that a man in Amman was charged on August 11 with shooting his niece, a rape victim, nine times. The 16-year-old girl had been raped by two relatives and had given birth to a child. Although the girl's father had taken her to the hospital and supported her, the uncle killed his niece "to cleanse his family's honor," a source told the paper.
In Pakistan, an attorney shocked lawmakers a year ago by defending the honor killing of five women who were beaten, shot and then buried alive because some of them wanted to choose which man to marry.
"These are centuries-old traditions and I will continue to defend them," Israr Ullah Zehri, who represents Baluchistan province, said to Pakistan's parliament, according to the AP. "Only those who indulge in immoral acts should be afraid."
Got that? Burying women alive is not immoral. To be fair, Zehri caught flak from some of the other Muslim parliamentarians that day. Numerous Muslim authorities have said that the Koran does not justify "honor killings." But the killings continue. As does Islamic-inspired terrorism.
Over in Gaza, which is now being governed by the terrorist group Hamas, a divorced Palestinian mother of five was beaten to death on July 23 with an iron chain by her father after he discovered her talking on the phone with a man.
Friday, August 28, 2009
The rigged game
By Caroline B. Glick
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Tuesday the Guardian reported that the Obama administration is now making Israel an offer it can't refuse: In exchange for a government order to freeze construction for Jews in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, the administration will adopt a "much tougher line with Iran over its alleged nuclear weapons program."
Israel should refuse this offer.
What the Guardian account shows is an Obama administration looking to blame Israel for the failure of its policy of attempting to appease the likes of Iranian dictator Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Come September, US President Barack Obama is going to have a difficult time of it. Obama set a September deadline for his strategy of diplomatically courting the mullahs. This policy involves deferring further sanctions against Iran and all but openly renouncing the option of using military force to destroy Iran's nuclear installations while waiting politely for the mullahs to sit down for tea with US officials.
Far from accepting Obama's offer, the Iranians have spit on it. Indeed, they have been too busy brutalizing their own people and building bombs and missiles to even respond to him directly. Instead, they have signaled their contempt for Obama by promoting known arch terrorists to high office. For instance Ahmadinejad just appointed Ahmad Vahidi, the suspected mastermind of the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people and the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia where 19 US servicemen and women were murdered to serve as Defense Minister.
In support of Obama's appeasement efforts, both the House and the Senate Foreign Relations committees set aside veto-proof bills that would place sanctions on companies exporting refined fuel to Iran. But Congress, now on summer recess, reconvenes in September and members are anxiously awaiting a green light from the White House to put the bills before a vote.
So unless something saves him, Obama will look like quite a fool next month. His appeasement policy has given the mullahs eight precious months of unimpeded work at their nuclear installations. Their uranium enrichment facility at Natanz is now operating some 5,000 centrifuges with another 2,400 centrifuges about to go online. That is an eightfold increase in centrifuge activity from a year ago.
Obama now turns to Israel to avoid embarrassment. If he can convince Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that the White House will only get serious about Iran's nuclear weapons program if Netanyahu freezes Jewish building in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem, then Obama can present his sudden willingness to sign on to veto-proof Congressional sanctions legislation not as a consequence of his own failure, but as a result of Israeli pressure.
If Obama succeeds in getting Netanyahu on board, the American media discussion of sanctions will focus on the issue of Israeli power over US policy. The so-called Israel lobby will be pummeled as pundits argue about whether Obama was right or wrong to succumb to Israeli pressure to support Congressional sanctions. No one will remember that Obama was forced to support the sanctions because he had no other choice, since next month his engagement policy will become indefensible.
On the other hand, if Israel refuses to play ball and doesn't provide Obama with a concession which he will be "forced" to pay for with a harder line on Iran, then he will still have to adopt a harder line on Iran. In this case however, it will be attributed to the failure of his appeasement policy towards Iran rather than to the success of his Middle East diplomacy against Israel.
Obama's apparent interest in setting Israel up as the fall guy for the failure of his engagement policy is the same policy he will doubtless follow if matters continue on course and Iran acquires nuclear weapons. At that point, Obama can be counted on to claim that it was Israel's recalcitrance in the negotiations with the Palestinians or the Syrians or the Lebanese that forced the mullahs' hands. That is, he will say it is the absence of "progress" in the "peace process" due to whatever imagined Israeli intransigence that made it impossible for the Iranian "moderates" to convince the "hardliners" to give up their nuclear weapons program.
In Obama's defense it should be noted that at least he worries about being embarrassed by the failure of his Iran policy. He knows that the overwhelming majority of Americans consider Iran to be an enemy of their country. In a poll of US voters taken in May, some 80 percent of Americans claimed that a nuclear-armed Iran would constitute a threat to US national security and 57 percent said that Israel would be justified in launching a preemptive strike against Iran's nuclear installations.
Things are different on the other side of the Atlantic. Obama's European counterparts do not face a comparable situation. They have no reason to fear being embarrassed when and if Iran emerges as a nuclear power because their constituents view Israel as threat equal to or greater than Iran.
European politics - particularly as they relate to the Middle East- are not informed by rational interests so much as they are defined by attitude. Facts today mean little in Europe. They are easily crushed under the weight of the fantasies that dominate European political discourse.
The main fantasy governing Europe's attitude towards the Middle East is the belief in Israeli militaristic venality, fundamentalist messianism, and territorial greed. It is this fantasy that protects European leaders from the need to account for their six years of failed appeasement towards Iran during which Iran has made its swiftest progress towards completing its nuclear weapons program.
It is the predominance of anti-Israel attitudes throughout the continent that enables European leaders to make light of the Iranian nuclear threat even as ever growing swathes of the continent fall within the range of Iran's ballistic missiles.
A mere glance at the daily Middle East coverage of your standard European newspaper suffices to demonstrate the depths Europe's obsession with hating Israel. The absence of peace is always Israel's fault. The fact that the Arabs have never accepted Israel's right to exist is either whitewashed or justified. So too, Arab terrorism is explained away while every act - small and large - that in any way asserts Israel's right to defend itself is pounced upon as proof of Israel's criminality and brutality.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Israeli Negotiating Position
Two-State Solution: Israel accepts a two-state solution--including an independent Palestinian state—only under conditions it believes would lead to real and lasting peace.
It is a myth that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu only recently accepted this goal or did so only under U.S. pressure. In fact, he agreed to this as an outcome of negotiations in 1996.
Israel has put forward five conditions:
--Recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. Without this step, the aftermath of any “peace” agreement would be additional decades of Arab effort to destroy Israel in all but—temporarily—name.
--Absolute clarity that a peace agreement ends the conflict and all claims on Israel. Otherwise, the Palestinian leadership and much of the Arab world would regard any “peace” agreement as license for a new stage of battle using Palestine as a base for renewed attacks and demands.
--Strong security arrangements and serious international guarantees for them. Have no doubt; these will be tested by cross-border attacks from Palestine.
--An unmilitarized Palestinian state (a better description than “demilitarized”), with the large security forces already existing: enough for internal security and defense but not aggression.
--Palestinian refugees must be resettled in Palestine. The Palestinian demand for a “Right of Return” is just a rationale for wiping Israel off the map through internal subversion and civil war.
The PA basically rejects all of these conditions. While the first one—“Jewish state”—is debatable, the rest are obviously reasonable.
Issues to be decided in negotiations
In addition to these points, other issues under negotiation are less specifically delineated. The main issues are:
--Jerusalem: Israel’s general position has been that Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Israel and cannot be divided. However, previous governments have offered most or almost all of east Jerusalem to a Palestinian state. Unless the Palestinians make a very positive offer it is unlikely that the current government turn over all or most of east Jerusalem, yet is should be noted that the previous governments referred to were headed by Ehud Barak who is the coalition partner.
--Future of Settlements: It is likely that Israel would agree to dismantle all settlements in areas that became part of a Palestinian state (see borders, below)
--Borders: There is no one specific plan but the basic framework discussed is that the Palestinian state would get 92 to 96 percent of the West Bank with the offer of additional land to be traded to bring the total given up to the area of the West Bank captured by Israel in 1967. This is vital or strategic reasons (for example, a small portion of the main Tel Aviv-Jerusalem road crosses the line) as well as the concept of settlement blocs.
Settlement blocs refers to the Israeli idea that by annexing a small portion of the West Bank, say 3-5 percent, near the border and relatively uninhabited by Palestinians, Israel can bring a very large proportion of settlers into the country. This would not only have a strategic value, strengthening the border, but also muster a great deal of popular support for the painful concessions needed to make peace. Most of the construction on settlements is in these areas. By stopping the construction, the United States seems to be arguing for a precise return to the pre-1967 borders, thus damaging support for other concessions in Israel, though U.S. policymakers seem completely ignorant of these issues.
--Compensation: The Palestinian side would probably hear receive tens of billions of dollars in compensation for property confiscated after 1948. There is no discussion of any compensation for Jews displaced in Arab countries or pre-1948 landowners whose property would become part of a Palestinian state.
Palestinian Authority Negotiating Position
This is rather simple: Israel withdraws to the 1967 borders, allows any Palestinian refugees who wish to go to live in Israel (Right of Return), and that’s about it. There is no offer whatsoever on such things as end of conflict, security guarantees, or limits on the sovereignty of a Palestinian state (can form military alliances, invite in foreign troops, have whatever military it wishes, etc.)
Moreover, the alternative PA negotiating position is not more flexibility or compromise but the threat to go to armed struggle and to advocate openly a one-strate solution (which may be its goal any way), that is the subsuming of Israel into a Palestinian Arab Muslim state, the basic proposal made by the PLO in the 1960s.
How does the PA hope to get a state when it is unwilling to compromise? Simple, it expected the U.S. government and Europe to press Israel into giving it everything it wants.
The Day after Effect, Nothing Can Go Wrong Syndrome
Western and Arab policymakers often speak as if there will be a peace agreement and that’s the end of history. No more war, no more conflict, nothing can go wrong. Israeli policymakers must be more careful and certain that mechanisms are built into any agreement that will ensure it continues.
Why should a state without serious conditionality be given a Palestinian regime which has failed to govern competently, continued anti-Israel incitement, is profoundly corrupt, has already lost half its patrimony to a more extremist rival, is subject to influence by radical states, etc.
After all, it is easy to come up with realistic—even highly likely—scenarios for what could happen:
--Cross-border attacks from Palestine against Israel carried out either by Hamas and other Islamist oppositionists or by factions or even mainstream Fatah cadre. The Palestine government would declare itself unable to stop the attacks, deny they came from its territory, or blame Israel. To argue that a weaker Palestine would not allow such things given its self-interest neglects large portions of Middle East history when such things have happened.
--Overthrow of the new regime by a more radical group or faction. The government of Palestine would then have all the benefits of statehood and previous Israeli concessions without any intention to live up to prior commitments.
--A government of Palestine, even one which has signed a peace agreement, could embark on a Stage 2 strategy, which is after all what much of its ideology and key documents advocate, to complete Israel’s destruction.
--A Palestine government could be subverted by radical regimes (at present, Syria and Iran) or it could obtain advanced weapons from Arab states or Iran, or even invite in foreign troops.
In the face of these and other scenarios, Israel always has a war option. But how much could it depend on the United States and Europe to enforce a peace agreement or support its defensive efforts? Precedent isn’t encouraging. Moreover, as a sovereign state, Palestine would have very advantageous options, for example going to the UN where a Muslim-Arab bloc backed by others would declare Israel the aggressor no matter what had happened.
The bottom line is this: Israel would be worse, not better, off agreeing to such arrangements than it is now.
Are Things So Terrible Now?
Those insisting on peace at any price—for Israel that is—often employ two conflicting arguments. On the one hand they claim that Israel is so strong that it can give concessions without receiving equivalent ones, or so weak that it must do so. Yet the country simply does not desperately need a deeply flawed "solution" to be grabbed either out of misplaced "generosity" or "fear."
This is true because Israel is the stronger party, it has (or can obtain) control over the land in question, and it can resist external pressure both because it is likely to be fairly low and the stakes for Israel’s survival are so high.
Another mistaken conception is that the status quo is intolerable and that any change would be for the better. Yet more risks, concessions, and the establishment of an unstable and hostile Palestinian state--the most likely outcome at present--would make things worse.
Equally wrong is the notion that time is against Israel, a strong and vibrant society surrounded by weak, disorganized neighbors. Israel’s strategic situation has dramatically improved over the decades. It is a strong, confident society visibly meeting the challenge of the modern economic and technical environment.
But what about the Palestinians? They are certainly suffering. Are their leaders desperate to get a state as quickly as possible and thus willing to be flexible? On the contrary, the history of the PLO, Fatah, and the PA under both Yasir Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas show they are in no such hurry at all. They would rather wait decades than give up the option of total victory in future. They also hope that external pressure will win the day for them. Thus, the worse things are, the better is their situation.
Ex-President Jimmy Carter blames the Jews for his loss of the presidency, rather than his own bumbling incompetence.
Jimmy Carter, we can have peace (without you) in the Holy Land
Former President Jimmy Carter has just released a new book, We Can Have Peace in the Holy Land: A Plan that Will Work in which he advocates a straightforward solution: Israel should embrace the Quartet [Russia, the UN, the EU and the US].
The plan is backed by a group known simply as The Elders, an NGO started by Nelson Mandela in 2007 to promote peace and assist in conflict resolution and funded partly by British entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson, who originally proposed the idea for the group, and musician Peter Gabriel. Jimmy Carter and the Carter Center are heavily involved with this endeavor; Carter is one of three appointed 'Elders' to the Middle East. The delegation currently in Israel accompanying Carter includes South African Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and former Irish president Mary Robinson (who recenty received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from US President Barack Obamadespite strong objections by Jewish groups over her leadership role in the 2001 UN Durban Review).
The group's objectives were met with skepticism by Israelis, but according to Carter, were eagerly embraced by the "Palestinians, peace groups and human rights activists in the region."
How could he ask the Jewish people to embrace a group known as The Elders? The controversial Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion is the biggest best-selling book in a bigoted world, and is charged with fueling anti-Semitism.
CARTER'S PLAN is to allow the Quartet to solve the Middle East conflict, plain and simple. He calls for peace-loving organizations such as Hizbullah and Hamas and states like Iran and Syria to be involved in the negotiating process in order to bring peace to the Holy Land. The Quartet, Hizbullah, Hamas, Syria, Iran - according to Carter, everybody but Israel can bring peace.
For Israelis only, Carter reserves the word 'radicals' in his book. He also calls former prime minister Menachem Begin by the same abjective and then describes him as the "most notorious terrorist in the region." Of course, he said the British said that, not him. Carter goes on to describe Binyamin Netanyahu as a "key political associate and naysayer" who was strongly opposed to Israel relinquishing control over the Sinai.
It appears that Jimmy Carter is revising history. The Binyamin Netanyahu I know was attending college during the Camp David meetings in the late 1970s. In fact, when I recommended him to Begin for a government job, the prime minister did not even know who Netanyahu was. I have no idea how Carter was so aware of Binyamin Netanyahu's political ideology; he was selling furniture at the time to help fund his schooling.
The former president also writes that at the time, Begin agreed to divide Jerusalem. I found that to be astonishing, especially since Begin had given me a copy of the letter he penned to Jimmy Carter on September 17, 1978, in which he wrote, "Dear Mr. President, on the basis of this law, the government of Israel decreed in July 1967 that Jerusalem is one city indivisible, the capital of the State of Israel." According to Begin, Carter informed him that the US government did not recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
Begin told me he responded, "Excuse me sir, but the State of Israel does not recognize your non-recognition."
Carter further charges that Begin agreed to a freeze on building Jewish settlements but Begin told me he had not agreed to a total freeze; he only agreed not to build new settlements for three months, during the negotiations.
Carter also gives the impression that he and Begin were close friends by saying that Begin and then Egyptian president Anwar Sadat visited him in Plains to reaffirm the personal commitments each had made to the other, which I found quite humorous.
Begin told me he had refused to meet with Carter when the president traveled to Jerusalem. At that time, he was no longer prime minister but was outraged that Carter had misrepresented the events during their meetings.
COULD IT be that Jimmy Carter's ideals are formulated by the number of zeros before the decimal on the contributions to the Carter Center by oil-rich Gulf States? These same states do not now, nor will they ever, allow Jews to worship freely within their borders no matter how much land Israel relinquishes. It is then surprising and hypocritical to call Israel an "apartheid state" and to infer that the region's only democratic country is an obstacle to peace - thus the only solution to the Middle East conflict is through intervention.
Carter's final plea is for President Barack Obama to "shape a comprehensive peace effort between Israel and the Palestinians...then use persuasion and enticements to reach these reasonable goals with the full backing of other members of the International Quartet and the Arab nations."
It is likely he would call on The Elders for their expertise. The best thing President Obama could do is completely ignore Jimmy Carter and his plan.
The writer is a New York Times bestselling author of Jimmy Carter: The Liberal Left and World Chaos. A television special based on the book is currently being produced (www.carterbooktv.com)
Monday, August 17, 2009
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
This post was first published on Jerusalempost.com
Mary Robinson, who presided over the UN's notorious Durban conference in 2001, and participated in many anti-Israel sessions during her tenure as High Commissioner for Human Rights (1997-2002), is slated to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom at the White House on Wednesday. This award has been criticized by Jewish organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League and AIPAC, and by others who blame Robinson for the destruction of the universality and moral foundation of human rights.
Many quote the late Congressman Tom Lantos (a liberal Democrat, Holocaust survivor, and a member of the American delegation to Durban), who denounced this UN event as "an anti-American, anti-Israeli circus." Lantos declared that "much of the responsibility... rests on the shoulders of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson who, in her role as secretary-general of the conference, failed to provide the leadership needed to keep the conference on track."
The same applies to her role in the Human Rights Council, which was exploited for the political assault against the Jewish state, in parallel to the horrendous murders of Israelis in mass terror attacks. Robinson's behavior also set the stage for the pseudo-judicial and entirely one-sided Goldstone inquiry on Gaza.
BUT ROBINSON, like other public figures confronted with past moral lapses, has chosen to attack her critics and refuses to admit any errors in judgment. In a recent interview with RTE Radio One in Ireland, she declared "There's a lot of bullying by certain elements of the Jewish community..."
She repeated the term "bullies" in reference to those who disagree with her blind adoption of the Palestinian narrative, which starts the history of the conflict in 1967, and focuses only on the "occupation," ignoring the Arab rejectionism that led to these events.
This offensive language only highlights Robinson's problem, showing that she has learned nothing. Perhaps Robinson, who was Ireland's first female president and has numerous supporters (including in the Obama administration), has the illusion that her critics will eventually disappear, but this has not happened. At ceremonies at American universities in which she has received honorary doctorates, students and faculty have led protests. At Emory University, Prof. Kenneth Stein, who has worked with former president Jimmy Carter, noted "the apparent absence of due diligence on the part of decision makers who invited her to speak."
The White House award will not change this.
Instead, Robinson should take the opposite path by acknowledging her failure to take a moral position in protecting universal human rights, rather than promoting anti-Israel discrimination and double standards. Admitting error is never easy, particularly for a public official, but in doing so, Robinson would have a chance to correct the damage by apologizing and asking for forgiveness for her contribution to this bitter history.
The first step is to admit the obvious - that in the 2001 Durban conference, she allowed the Islamic bloc, led by Iran and Libya, to hijack the principles of human rights. Rather than promoting the myth that Durban "yielded an extraordinarily important document for those who suffer discrimination, marginalization and racism…." Robinson needs to acknowledge these errors, including agreement to hold a key preparatory committee meeting in Teheran, assuring Israeli and Jewish delegates that they would receive visas. They did not, and the vicious anti-Semitic language adopted at the Teheran meeting should have prompted her immediate resignation.
TO TAKE the courageous moral step of admitting error, Robinson also needs to publically divorce herself from the obsessive denunciations of Israel's defense against terror. These include false allegations of "collective punishment" on Gaza, and her condescending suggestion that Israelis were duped into supporting military responses to the continuous deadly rocket fire from Gaza. Recently, she said: "I cannot believe that ordinary Israeli people understand what is being done in their name; they couldn't possibly support it if they did." Such ill-advised words are clearly not the way to demonstrate understanding or contrition.
In preparing for the White House ceremony, Robinson would be well advised to see this event as a chance to undo some of the damage she has caused, and contribute to restoring the moral foundation of human rights. An apology and request for forgiveness is the right thing to do, even at this late date.
Prof. Gerald M. Steinberg heads NGO Monitor, and chairs the political science department at Bar Ilan University in Israel.
Saturday, August 8, 2009
Too much hate.
Too much shooting at the hip before finding out what is really going on. The following post was written by A nurse who is caring for the poor in Guatemala. She doesn't just talk and debate. She goes out into the mud and grime and tries to save the lives of little children. She was, until two days ago, a registered Republican. Her husband was killed four years ago in Iraq. She is tired of being lied to by her government. So am I. I do have much respect for my conservative friends, but many are listening only to one side of issues, and that side is not honest. That side is not patriotic. That side lost the war in Afganistan because they went to Iraq for whatever reason, take your pick as to the reasons, I've heard them all. I have heard Bush and Cheney change their stories repeatedly over the years as to why we went there, and why some of our most valued young died in a war that has no real end or even realistic goals. When we leave Iraq, if we do, we all know what is going to happen. Another radical Islamic enemy. Worse in every way than they were before we quit Afganistan, WHICH WE WERE WINNING, and now are losing. I am not thrilled with the Administration's overall performance, particularly in regards to Israel, but there is much more to the story than many, apparently, are even aware of. Because they only listen to one side. Cat Estanol lost her Husband in the Iraq fiasco, . If you consider yourself a thoughtful American, and you honor our soldiers, and their families, listen to her story.
In my heart and in my mind I know I cannot find peace with my husband's death in Iraq until I fully understand why he was there and simply, why did he die? What was the point? Was there a point? Did my President lie to me, to us? Why did this have to happen? Why am I still here without my husband? Was his death as pointless as I sometimes believe? Grief is a powerful thing. At the time he died, people would say things to me like "It's a process." No, it's not. It has been 4 years and I am not "over" it or “through” it or whatever you want to say. He is here with me in my heart and in my mind every minute of every day awake or asleep. No, I have NOT learned to live with it. No, time does not heal. I get stuck on the Why? part of his death. Why is he dead? He was shot. He was shot 21 times with assault rifles. His Captain said that it was over quickly and he was gone before he fell to the ground. I like to think that he didn't have time to think, to be scared or worried. In my heart and in my mind I know I cannot find peace with his death until I fully understand why he was there and simply, why did he die? What was the point? Was there a point? Did my President lie to me, to us? Why did this have to happen? Why am I still here without my husband? Was his death as pointless as I sometimes believe? People say things to me like “he died to keep us all free.” No, he didn’t. He served our country to keep us all free, but he died because he was sent to Iraq. That’s not the same thing. He was one in a long line of military men in his family, father, grandfathers, uncles, and now brothers. I am proud of him. I am proud of what he did. I am proud that he made a conscious decision to serve his country and that he served honorably. It is some solace that he was killed while he was trying to help someone, not kill someone. He had a good heart. What he was asked to do must have been killing him inside but he did it because it was his duty. What I am not proud of is the fact that I believe that we, Americans, were manipulated into a conflict and that he was killed to advance the theories of a few egotistic men as they saw the US as a benevolent superpower deciding which regimes get to stay in power and which must fall so that we may maintain our superiority. Men with Napoleonic complexes, most of whom never served in any military capacity, career politicians, who want to rule the world, and still want to, by advancing what they say are conservative principles. I am a conservative but those principals they have outlined are not my principles. Would it be easier, would it be safer for America if by sheer military strength all other nations in the world followed our example of democracy and western thinking and did as we wanted? Yes, of course. Should we strive to bend others to our will? No. It is wrong and I believe immoral, not to mention unlikely. We have a hard enough time running the US, let alone the world. I am quite certain that what led us into Iraq was a perfect storm of a nation shattering event, powerful men positioned in influential places and a weak President that could be convinced to follow their position. Many things point to a group called PNAC or Project for the New American Century. I read the website and things started to fall in place for me. I don’t believe in the things they believe. I do feel that my husband died for their beliefs, not to keep the America free. This blog is not about a conspiracy theory. It is about how my beliefs have been shaken to their core and changed forever. When I turned 18 I registered to vote. I registered as a Republican. I was raised Republican. I was raised hearing Rush Limbaugh play on my mother's radio every day. I have been active in the Republican party forever. I volunteered and worked. I attended meetings, distributed flyers, registered people to vote. I was active in the Republican Party on campus when I was in college. I married and my husband went into the Marines, a family tradition. He enlisted after college because he knew it would not be his career but wanted to serve just not as an officer. He was sent to Iraq and was killed only 5 months in to his tour. He and I discussed the war and his responsibility to do as our President asked. He didn't agree with the war, and this was in 2004, but he honored our President and went to serve. I recently signed on to Twitter and then everything changed. Everything. What I thought was the GOP no longer exists as far as I can tell. My Republicans Party no longer exist. They have been replaced by a bunch of rude, disrespectful, and yes - crazy people. The hatred and invectives spewed daily by conservatives on Twitter has completely altered my feeling about the party. I agree with NOTHING that is being said. I have started unfollowing everyone who says hateful and disrespectful things. If you are sporting the "Joker" avatar made to look like President Obama - that's an automatic Block. I don't like the way people demean others and the President. I don't like how they malign everything that comes out of the administration. I don't like how these people make Americans looks unruly, uneducated and uninformed. I don't like what is happening. President Obama is our President. He deserves our respect as did President Bush. I never joined in the Bush-bashing that went on during the last years of his administration. I rarely agreed with him but I always showed respect and I always listened to what he had to say, respectfully. It is interesting to note that during the Bush administration, anyone who disagreed with them was labeled a traitor, lacking patriotism. The way people talk about President Obama and his administration is unpatriotic, it is disrespectful, it is wrong. He is our President and we are in as much jeopardy at this moment as we were the day after 9/11, it is just in a different form. The GOP habit of scaring Americans into compliance has just worn thin for me. All I read is lies and distortion coming from the Right. They are yelling nonsensical talking points to stop all forward movement. I find I cannot get behind a Party that conducts itself the way I have seen the GOP act especially in the past 6 months. I believe the driving force is just plain racism. They cannot believe our President is African-American and so everything he says, everything he does is wrong. Everything. This needs to stop. I am so afraid, so very afraid if this hate-mongering doesn't stop, someone will be killed. I don't want any more killing. What I am most afraid of is that our President will be killed. It seems to me that is the point of all this. Agitate a crazy person who will get rid of what the GOP sees as a problem. It is what I hear in every word Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck or Michelle Malkin speak. This nonsense we are seeing now from both sides needs to stop. Both parties are equally corrupt and there is very little substantive debate about anything anymore in our politics. It's all name-calling, outlandish insults and demonetization of the other side as all that is wrong in America. Rush is a hypocritical blowhard who most likely doesn't believe the majority of what he says-it's an entertainment program after all, not news or insightful analysis, as is the case with most talk radio. I have resigned from the Republican Party. I have resigned as a volunteer in my district. I re-registered as an Independent and it was not a decision I made lightly. Do I hold the Bush Administration responsible for my husband's unnecessary death? Yes I do. Do I trust the GOP? No I don't. Do I want to be a part of the direction they are headed? No. I quit.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
This is it folks.
August 5, 2009
As so often happens, the debate over Fatah’s policy misses the point. The central issue has become Fatah’s theme of saying it wants peace but it is ready to go to resistance, that is, armed struggle.
Those who want to stress how moderate and ready for peace Fatah is, dismiss this as sheer rhetoric, a terrible mistake. Those who wish to point out Fatah’s continued extremism suggest that the group is about to return to battle.
The problem, however, is not that Fatah retains the option of armed struggle but a policy which makes it far more likely that violence will return or, at best, stagnation will reign. In other words, when the PA or Fatah say they want peace it is less a trick than it is an extremely low priority.
After all, it is possible to argue honestly—though it is still debatable--that Fatah is now a status quo power, happy to rule the West Bank and to get massive amounts of aid money to enrich its leaders. What is not possible is to argue honestly that Fatah is an active force for obtaining a comprehensive peace.
But before discussing these points, recall a famous moment that the Fatah Congress and the speech of Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority (PA) leader echoes.
November 13, 1974, PLO leader Yasir Arafat addresses the UN. ending his speech with what became his most famous line: “I come bearing an olive branch and a freedom-fighter's gun. Do not let the olive branch fall from my hand."
Another leader might have said, “Help me to succeed with the olive branch so that I can put down the gun.” But Arafat was stating his belief that diplomacy was not an alternative to violence but only a supplement to it.
Thirty-five years later, that same basic view continues to prevail in Fatah and the Palestinian movement. The threat posture rather than the peace posture pervades the movement.
The idea which still underpins Fatah, PLO, and PA thinking is to demand everything they want, to back that up with intransigence, and if they don’t get it to resort to violence. Missing are all the other tools of international negotiations: compromise, trading off, confidence-building, recognition of the other side’s humanity and interests.
Or to put it simply, as we constantly see—often excessively--in Western diplomacy, you can try to get a mutually beneficial deal by making it seem so sweet and profitable to the other side. Or you can merely say: give me what I want or I will bash you, and what I want is a lot, beyond my capabilities to obtain, and non-negotiable.
This leads to the first problem of Fatah’s stance. When Fatah and the Palestinian movement threaten to bash Israel, it has historically claimed that this will suffice to win total victory. In doing so, it underestimated Israel’s power and resolve. Jews were looked at as cowards; Israel was perceived as not a real state that would inevitably crumble. While this thinking has declined, it still endures more than outsiders realize.
The emphasis, however, has shifted. Now rather than believe they can win by bleeding Israel, they believe they can win by bleeding themselves.
Palestinian martyrdom and suffering is seen as a winning card because it will bring in international support. And, indeed, we have seen this happen. In 2009, for example, Hamas set off a losing war which despite its use of human shields and all the other crimes it committed ended up making Israel look worse and arousing anti-Israel sentiment around the globe. The idea here is that to lose is to win.
But that’s not exactly true. To lose is still to lose, unless one has complete suckers on the other side. Yes, anti-Israel sentiment has risen in the West and Western governments are more critical of Israel. Yet one can respond: So what? That is not going to get Palestinians a state or force an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank.
The other tool in this regard is the United States. Abbas has said publicly that the PA intends to give nothing and wait for America to deliver Israel bound hand and foot giving the Palestinians everything they want. This isn’t going to happen. Obama won’t do it; and Israel wouldn’t let him do it.
So the PA has a real strategy but not a workable strategy. With talks inevitably failing it must choose between the status quo and violence. Sooner or later, for period of time, this means violence and more devastation for the Palestinians and the West Bank.
The second problem is that while there is a lot of armed struggle education in the PA, there is no peace education. Visitors just love to go to see some Israeli-Palestinian, Arab-Jewish projects where kids play together or footballs are kicked, or some such thing. In sixteen years, I don’t think the PA has sponsored a single such project. It isn’t interested in reducing conflict and rejects what it calls “normalization.”
A whole Palestinian generation is being raised systematically taught to hate Israelis and to believe that killing them is heroic and necessary. And, no, despite various slanders there is absolutely no mirror image here on the other side.
The total lack of peace education and empathy isn’t devastating just because it is something nice to do but because it builds constituency. Palestinian leaders know that if they were ever to make the compromises needed to achieve peace, they would be denounced as traitors, deposed, or killed. Every Palestinian politician and warlord is ready to use militancy, not ability to deliver a better life for Palestinians, as their main asset.
Palestinian politics are still built on the demagoguery of violence not the promise of more and better pita and hummus. Fatah competes with Hamas not on living standards but on effectiveness at violence. As long as that doesn’t change there’s no hope for peace.
Finally, there is that word “resistance.” It has a very specific meaning in the region today as the strategy of Syria, Iran, Hamas, and Hizballah. There is here a veiled threat to go over to the other side.
This is suicidal. But Fatah history is full of such futile gestures. At the root lies the concept, very powerful in the movement and inculcated in the next generation: It’s better to fight 100 years than give up the Palestinian claim to the whole land. And it ‘s better also to fight 100 years than make any interim arrangement which blocks the effort to complete that struggle successfully.
This, and not Western fantasies about Fatah as yearning for a state as soon as possible and eager to serve its people’s needs is what determines the Palestinian movement’s course and blocks any chance for full, formal, and final peace.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
August 5, 2009
No, I don't want to keep writing every day about the Obama Administration's Middle East policy. There are many other topics I'd prefer, but the problem is that they keep doing things.
Now the White House has recognized Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as "the elected leader" of Iran, in the words of White House spokesman Robert Gibbs.
Let's be clear here. It would be understandable, though worthy of serious debate, if the U.S. government said that Ahmadinejad was the de facto leader of Iran. What was called for here was a little sneer, a little sarcasm. Something like: He is in fact the president and so we have to face the fact that he's running the country. Or even, If we are going to deal with Iran in any way, we must recognize that he is functioning as president.
There needed to be some reservation, some caveat, some hope thrown to the millions of brave oppositionists who are being beaten, arrested, tried in court, or even murdered.
But what we got was this, quoting the AP dispatch:
"Gibbs was asked [August 4] if the White House recognized Ahmadinejad as the country's legitimate president.
"`He's the elected leader,' Gibbs responded."
Did you catch that? In the context, and every detail is carefully orchestrated to send the proper message, Gibbs did two things:
First, he implied that Ahmadinejad is the legitimate president, that is he is properly president, that his placement in office was legally and properly done.
Second, he reinforced this idea and went further, in effect endorsing the election as fair and Ahmadinejad as the winner. "Elected president" means he got the most votes, right?
Was this an error? Did Gibbs mess up? Did the State Department get on the phones to the White House and urge some "qualification" on this statement? We will see but no hint of that yet.
This is deeply and profoundly wrong. Again, some would say the United States should withhold recognition altogether but at least if the administration is going to accept the reality of the situation, at least it should make clear its disapproval.
Totally aside from the morality--and I remember the days when a "liberal" was someone who argued that the United States should not recognize governments achieving power by force or dishonest elections--there is the matter of U.S. interest.
The United States is engaged in a conflict--if that word is too strong for you, say competition, rivalry--with Iran. Anything that shows the true nature of that regime should be highlighted, even if the administration seeks to engage Tehran. It scores points with allies and neutrals, weakening the other side, a side which--among other things--is killing American soldiers in Iraq.
In addition, the administration should want to court the opposition, a huge proportion of Iranians who, if they were to take over, would reverse the regime's policies of anti-Americanism, sponsorship of terrorism, subversion, and if not building nuclear weapons than at least slowing the pace and being less likely to use them.
But that's not the philosophy of this administration which believes that to engage with an enemy you must be sure never to offend it, use power or leverage, or even be critical in any way if that can somehow be avoided.
Despite my own criticisms of the administrations Middle East policy, I'm truly shocked and dismayed by this shameful action, even though I can't say I'm surprised.