Olmert and Barak are proving once again they are the Israeli equivalents of Mutt and Jeff and/or Laurel and Hardy. GW is sending Cheney over to show our commitment to a peace process that should be allowed to die along with what the IDF should be allowed to do vis a vis Hamas terrorists.
What is Cheney going to accomplish that Rice has not? Does GW really believe there is a chance to create peace between Abbas and Hamas, then how can it be expected to occur between Israel, Abbas and Hamas. When will politicians simply allow reality to sink in and quit supporting denying and lying nut cases and terrorist thugs? (See 1, 2, 3 and 4 below.)
The Eliot Spitzer episode will have spill-over effect on the Democrat's campaign for who becomes their nominee and I find it even more ironic that the New York Times will have been one of the main contributors.
Spitzer's fall will serve to resurrect all the bile associated with Bill's "amorous flings." It is really amazing how so many of the world's politicians have been brought down by sex revelations. I guess it is normal for politicians to think they can screw just about everything they touch.
1) Olmert and Barak deny ceasefire accord with Hamas - as does Hamas
Creating some confusion, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas insisted in Amman that a Gaza truce had been finalized. “Hamas wanted its leaders protected,” he remarked.
The first denial came from Israel’s defense minister Ehud Barak Monday, March 10, when he sharply rebuffed reports of a truce deal with Hamas and the scaling back of military operations in the Gaza Strip.
“There is no accord, nor is one close,” he stressed. “We will continue to fight until missile fire and terrorist attacks end and arms smuggling into Gaza is cut down. We are committed to these three goals.”
Until these goals are attained, we will take any military steps we think fit. But it is no one-off operation. The tough challenges are still to come.”
The minister spoke during a tour of the Technology and Logistics Base at Tel Hashomer outside Tel Aviv.
Referring to the two-day slowdown of missile fire from Gaza, Barak said no one should complain if Sapir College and Ashkelon are free of Grad and Qassam missile fire. “The military will do everything necessary to complete its mission, even if it faces long and tough challenges.” He noted that all sorts of considerations affect military decisions, such as weather conditions and the accessibility of targets.
Asked to respond to the grim intelligence report of threats facing Israel in the year go come, which was submitted to the cabinet Sunday, Barak said: “Israel is still the strongest nation in the region.”
Military sources pose a couple of questions raised by the defense minister’s remarks:
1. Are they backed by prime minister Ehud Olmert? Political sources reply in the negative. The prime minister has developed his own two-track strategy: While publicly pledging a series of military knockout blows against Hamas, he is privately engaged in indirect dialogue with Hamas representatives and forcing the IDF to hold its fire. Barak is trying to correct the public’s low opinion of this performance.
2. He correctly stated that a ceasefire deal with Hamas is nowhere near but he did not explain that the delay is not the result of Israel’s tough bargaining position but because Hamas keeps on raising new demands. The latest, endorsed Monday by Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, was that Israeli forces forego their counter-terror operations not only in Gaza, but on the West Bank too.
3. Israel is commonly accepted as the strongest nation in the region. However, the Olmert government’s military policies constantly transmit weak resolve and hesitancy. This was illustrated by its stop-go handling of the Palestinian missile escalation from Gaza. These tactics are eroding the IDF’s deterrent strength. If Israel concludes a ceasefire accord with Hamas from a position of weakness, the rockets and missiles will soon be flying again.
2) Arab leader denies temple ever existed.
The al-Aqsa mosque was never the site of a Jewish temple, Sheikh Raed Salah,
the head of the Islamic Movement's northern branch, said Monday during a
press conference he convened in Jerusalem to respond to voices calling for
the expulsion of Israeli residents of the city who participate in terror
activities against Israel.
"Those calling for the expulsion of Palestinian residents of east Jerusalem
are hysterical and stupid and belong in the trash can," Salah said at the
conference. He went on to deny any Israeli or Jewish historical claim to the city,
denying that there ever existed a Jewish temple on the Temple Mount.
"The claims of the Jews are big lies and they have no right to any speck of
dust here," he said.
Israel, he claimed, was carrying out extensive digs under al-Aqsa mosque,
and was hiding destructive tunnels under the compound which had already
caused damage to the mosque and several houses in the Muslim Quarter.
"I think that we are at a critical time. We believe that al-Aqsa is in
danger and that it is under occupation, and we believe that Jerusalem is in
danger because it is under occupation," Salah said. "Jerusalem is not only
houses - it is faith, it is history, it is a culture, it is a present, a
future and an eternal right that we will not relinquish."
In January, Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz filed an indictment against
Salah, charging him with incitement to violence and racism in a speech he
made last year protesting the archeological dig carried out at the Old
City's Mughrabi Gate.
During his sermon in Jerusalem's Wadi Joz neighborhood on February 16 of
last year, Salah urged supporters to start a third intifada in order to
"save al-Aksa Mosque, free Jerusalem and end the occupation."
Salah's speech also attacked Jews, saying, "They want to build their temple
at a time when our blood is on their clothes, on their doorsteps, in their
food and in their drinks. Our blood has passed from one 'general terrorist'
to another 'general terrorist.'"
He also said, "We are not those who ate bread dipped in children's blood."
3) Fear and gullibility as weapons
By Barry Rubin
Radical forces in the Middle East have rewritten the international rulebook in a way designed so they can't lose. That is, there is no easy response to their behavior and strategies. Even more worrisome is the widespread failure in the West even to realize this is happening.
Hamas and Hizbullah fire from among civilians and use civilian homes for military purposes; Syria or Iran deploy disinformation; radical regimes pretend moderation, and there are plenty of suckers to take the bait.
Extremism makes many believe that kind words and concessions can transform them; intransigence produces the response that if they won't give up, we must do so.
HERE ARE some new rules in which "we" represents such disparate forces as Hamas, Hizbullah, Iran, Iraqi insurgents, al-Qaida, Syria, the Taliban and others, including radical Arab nationalists.
These forces are not all alike or allied, but do often follow a parallel set of rules quite different from how international affairs have generally been conducted.
1. We'll never give up. No matter what you do, we will continue fighting. No matter what you offer, we will keep attacking you. Since you can't win, you should give up.
2. We're indifferent to any pressure you put on us. We will turn this pressure against you. Against us, deterrence does not exist; diplomacy does not convince.The carrot cannot buy us off, nor the stick make us yield. There are no solutions that can end the conflict. You cannot win militarily, nor make peace through diplomacy.
3. If you set economic sanctions, we'll say you are starving our people in an act of "collective punishment." Moreover, sanctions will cost you money and generate opposition among those who lose profits.
4. In response to military operations, we'll attack your civilians. Casualties will undermine your internal support. We will try to force you to kill civilians accidentally. We won't care, but will use this to persuade many that you are evil. Thus we will simultaneously murder your civilians and get you condemned as human rights violators.
5. If you try to isolate us we will use your own media and intellectuals against you. At times, we will hint at moderation and make promises of change. We won't do so enough to alienate our own followers, but enough to subvert yours. They will demand you engage us, which means you making concessions for nothing real in exchange.
6. Talking to our own people, we will foment hatred and demonize you. Speaking to the West, we will accuse you of fomenting hatred. We will hypocritically turn against you all the concepts you developed: racism, imperialism, failure to understand the "other," and so on. These concepts, of course, describe what we are doing, but your feelings of guilt, ignorance about us, and indifference to ideology will make you fail to notice that fact.
7. We will claim to be victims and "underdogs." Because you are stronger and more "advanced," that means you are the villains. We are not held responsible for our deeds, or expected to live up to the same standards. There will be no shortage of, to quote Lenin, "useful idiots" in your societies to help echo our propaganda.
8. Since our societies are weak, undemocratic and have few real moderates, you will have to make deals with phoney moderates and dictatorial regimes weakened by corruption and incompetence.
9. Even the less radical regimes, often our immediate adversaries, partly play into our hands. Due to popular pressure — plus their desire to mobilize support and distract attention from their own shortcomings — they trumpet Arab and Islamic solidarity. They denounce the West, blame all problems on Israel and revile America, even as they accept your aid. They glorify interpretations of Islam not too far from ours. They cheer Iraqi insurgents, Hizbullah, and Hamas. They don't struggle against Iran getting nuclear weapons. They lay the basis for our mass support and recruits.
10. There is no diplomatic solution for you, though you yearn to find one. There is no military solution for you, whether you try that or not. You love life, we love death; you are divided, we are united; you want to get back to material satisfaction, we are dedicated revolutionaries.
We will outlast you.
Finally, our greatest weapon is that you truly don't understand all the points made above. You are taught, informed, and often led by people who simply don't comprehend what an alternative, highly ideological, revolutionary world view means.
In effect, we will try, and will often succeed, to turn your "best and brightest" into the worst and dimmest who think you can persuade us, who blame you for the conflicts, or expect that we will alter our course. We will use those mistakes against you.
THE ABOVE analysis seems pessimistic, but is actually the opposite. Most of this strategy's power is based on spreading illusions, depending on gullibility. Much of the rest relies on the enemy's psychological weaknesses.
In a sustained conflict, the radicals' technological and organizational weaknesses, along with their mistaken assessments and unrealistic ideology, will bring inevitable defeat. They will lose even if they never surrender. They can kill people, but not overcome societies determined to grow, prosper, and survive.
The keys to a successful response are steadfastness and understanding. To paraphrase Francis Bacon and Franklin Roosevelt, there is nothing to fear but fear — and gullibility — itself.
4) The Arab/Israeli Conflict Debate
by Cinnamon Stillwell
A Santa Clara University course optimistically titled, "The Peaceful Settlement of International Disputes," was the setting for a February 26 academic debate on one of the world's most intractable disputes: The Arab/Israeli conflict.
San Jose State University Middle East history lecturer, David Meir-Levy, represented the pro-Israeli side of the equation, and UC Berkeley Islamic studies lecturer, Hatem Bazian, argued the pro-Palestinian position. Interestingly, each embodied the nationality of his respective side of the debate. David Meir-Levy is an American-born Israeli who once served in the Israeli Defense Forces, while Hatem Bazian is a Palestinian native.
Bazian is notorious for his transparently biased approach to the Arab/Israeli conflict. His call for "an intifada in this country" at a 2004 San Francisco anti-war protest is just one of many radical statements. More of an activist than an academic, Bazian personifies the politicization of Middle East studies today.
Meir-Levy, on the other hand, is known for his scrupulous scholarship on the subject of Middle East history. His recent book, History Upside Down: The Roots of Palestinian Fascism and the Myth of Israeli Aggression," as described by Middle East Forum director Daniel Pipes, "applies great common sense where demagogues and ignorami too often dominate."
Throughout the debate, Meir-Levy succeeded in turning history or, rather, the inaccurate historical narrative popular on college campuses, upside down, exposing the fallacy of Bazian's arguments in the process.
Bazian's approach was to vilify Israel and paint the Palestinians as the aggrieved party. But Meir-Levy demonstrated in no uncertain terms that a Palestinian state could have emerged many times over if not for the anti-Semitism that has subsumed their society and, in a larger sense, the Muslim world. "Absent that," he stated, "all issues could be resolved just as other nations have done."
While Meir-Levy was able to expound upon a variety of subjects, Bazian kept consulting his laptop, resulting in an array of flimsy talking points. Meir-Levy took note of the latter, accusing Bazian of engaging in "red herrings," and, at one point, stating coolly, "There's only one thing wrong with what you said. It's contrary to the historical record."
Proving his point, Bazian touted post-Zionist Israeli academic Ilan Pappé as an authority on the alleged "systematic expulsion of the Palestinians" from 1948 onward. Bazian's stated source for this outlandish claim was Pappé's book, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine.
Meir-Levy then conveyed a revealing admission the author made to him during a 2002 radio debate. As Pappé put it, "I care less about veracity because I have an agenda to advance."
The same could be said for Bazian, whose coterie of falsehoods included the assertion that Israel is depriving Palestinians of water. Bazian, Meir-Levy responded, must have "fallen prey to a misrepresentation." He then set the record straight on Israel's preservation of the water table and rebuilding of the West Bank and Gaza's sewage systems.
Following Bazian's condemnation of Israel's security barrier, Meir-Levy noted that the purportedly ominous wall is composed largely of chain-link fencing. The actual wall section, he pointed out, was built to prevent Palestinian snipers from shooting at Israelis and suicide bombers from getting into Israel. He concluded by stating the obvious: "If there was no terrorism, there would be no fence."
Taking a page from controversial Columbia University professor, Nadia Abu El-Haj, Bazian flatly denied Israel's archeological foundations. "There is no evidence of a major [ancient] Jewish civilization," he stated matter-of-factly.
When not promoting canards, Bazian tried to impress the audience with his credentials. He referenced his position at UC Berkeley several times for no apparent reason, and then went on to do the same with his 2004 appearance on Fox News Channel's "The O'Reilly Factor." Yet, he managed to conveniently omit the fact that he was invited on the show to explain his aforementioned "intifada" comments.
In a further display of boorish behavior, Bazian, responding to Meir-Levy's favorable reference to Daniel Pipes, accused Pipes and, for good measure, David Horowitz, of being one of the "the drum beaters of Armageddon."
Despite such heated rhetoric, Meir-Levy retained his composure throughout the debate. In contrast, Bazian gave way to frustration and anger quite easily. At one point, he fumed, "This is not a discussion," and later threatened to end the debate early, exclaiming, "This is nonsense!" But the "nonsense" in question consisted entirely of facts, and it was clear that Bazian, a skilled propagandist when dealing with the uninformed, was no match for the knowledgeable. As Meir-Levy pointed out, "one side in a debate descends into hyperbole when losing."
Nevertheless, some of the students in the classroom were not ready to hear the facts, at least when it came to the bigotry and genocidal ambitions of the Palestinian "resistance." The idea that both sides of a conflict are not on the same moral footing is difficult for those indoctrinated by years of relativism to accept. Several students accused Meir-Levy of demonstrating a "lack of constructive criticism" and of being "overly negative" for his denunciation of what he termed, "Arab Jew-hatred." One young woman asked him, "Why do we have to focus on hatred?" before walking out. The majority, however, remained cordial and stuck it out until the end.
To the protestations of Bazian and his student supporters, Meir-Levy answered with a profound, yet simple, statement: "Peace begins with trust. Trust begins with truth."
Unfortunately, Middle East studies academics such as Bazian appear to have little interest in truth, and it is the students who suffer the consequences. That is why spirited debates such as this one are so important.