Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Asharq Al-Awsat talks to Mahmoud al-Zahar

Al-Zahar: Inter-Palestinian reconciliation will not take place because Abbas is not serious about this

By Saleh al-Naami

Gaza, Asharq Al-Awsat – Hamas strongman Mahmoud al-Zahar broke ranks last week to criticize Hamas leader Khalid Mishal on his handling of the inter-Palestinian reconciliation talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The inter-Palestinian reconciliation saw Mishal accept a Palestinian State within the 1967 borders, as well as the provision of another time-limit period for negotiations with Israel, something that al-Zahar strongly spoke out against. Reports claim that the outspoken Hamas Political Bureau member was reprimanded in an extraordinary communique, and that he is facing a collection of disciplinary measures, including being dropped from the Palestinian national reconciliation file. Other reports claim that these disciplinary measures go so far as to freeze al-Zahar’s membership to the Hamas Political Bureau. Asharq Al-Awsat spoke with Mahmoud al-Zahar about his comments and position on the inter-Palestinian reconciliation, his vision for the future of the Palestinian Islamist movement and the Palestinian state, as well as the future of the region following the Arab Spring.

The following is the full text of the interview:

[Asharq Al-Awsat] What is the future of the inter-Palestinian reconciliation following the Abbas – Mishal meeting?

[Al-Zahar] The reconciliation will not take place, because all that Abbas is concerned about is postponing this, rather than achieving it.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] What proof do you have of this?

[Al-Zahar] Abbas is not serious [about reconciliation] because he is calling for the organization of legislative and presidential elections in May, in the knowledge that the government is supposed to be formed in January or February. So how can this government be able to organize such elections and provide the required security for this? Also, what about the fate of other reconciliation files, particularly as these are difficult issues? There will be no reconciliation because Abbas is still not prepared to meet the requirements for reconciliation.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] Hamas and Fatah officials are talking about turning over a new page and a new beginning for relations between the two sides. Do you think this is just empty rhetoric?

[Al-Zahar] What new page? The operation of political arrests is on-going, whilst security cooperation is at its highest, pursuing resistance figures and preventing them from moving against the [Israeli] occupation, in addition to certain parties stubbornly clinging to prior positions. After all of this, can there be talk about turning over a new page?

[Asharq Al-Awsat] In your opinion, what are the obstacles standing in the way of inter-Palestinian reconciliation?

[Al-Zahar] The main obstacle is Abbas gambling on the US – Israeli axis; the connection with the US in this regard makes it difficult for Abbas to move in a serious and sincere manner towards reconciliation. There is a US – Israeli veto on [inter-Palestinian] reconciliation, therefore there will be more excuses to evade ending the state of internal [Palestinian] division.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] What about those who say that relations have worsened between Israel and Abbas lately?

[Al-Zahar] In that case why did Netanyahu back down from his decision to freeze [Palestinian] tax revenue? This is because there is agreement between the two sides on many issues. Israel is very comfortable regarding what the Palestinian Authority and its security apparatus is doing, and therefore the noise that is being made in some cases is nothing more than a deception to cover up the reality of the situation.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] Is there any connection between your criticism of the inter-Palestinian reconciliation and the claims – by some media outlets – that your political duties and position has been “frozen”?

[Al-Zahar] This is completely untrue. This is pure lies, this has absolutely not happened! I am carrying out my [political] operational work as usual. I have my own view about what is happening, this is natural, there will not necessarily always be agreement in viewpoints between all people. My comments were due to serious controversy created by objective motives rather than personal motives. Unfortunately, one of the journalists’ whose telephone calls I refused to respond to fabricated this news and attributed it to unreliable sources, that’s all there is to it. I was and will remain a member of the Hamas Political Bureau, and that is normal.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] Will you participate in the forthcoming inter-Palestinian reconciliation dialogue session?

[Al-Zahar] It is possible that I will participate with this after I have seen the agenda of the meetings, and if this is serious then I will participate. In any case, I will continue to express my opinion in an advisory manner within the Hamas movement.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] When will inter-Palestinian reconciliation be achieved?

[Al-Zahar] The Arab world is witnessing significant changes, and these changes unveil an unmistakable scene, and the new reality will convince those who are gambling on influencing Israel and the US that their bets are misplaced. The [inter-Palestinian] division did not explode because of regulatory disputes [between Hamas and Fatah] but rather because of differences in political programs. What is happening in the Arab world strengthens the position of all those who are committed to the resistance and the perseverance of our rights. Therefore, this inter-Palestinian division will disappear with the rise of the resistance forces in the Arab world.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] Do you mean that the successes and achievements made by Islamist political parties in Arab Spring countries will serve to strengthen the position of Hamas in the Palestinian arena?

[Al-Zahar] Not precisely, for Hamas is not the only party that will be strengthened by this, but rather all parties that adhere to the framework of the [Muslim] ummah and its right for freedom, and escape from western subordination. What is happening in the Arab world is a natural development, not an abnormal one. This region has witnessed 1,400 years in the light of Islam, and then successive rulers holding different ideas appeared, and these forces were given all the time in the world for their programs to be put to the test, but they failed miserably, therefore it is natural for people to return to the option of Islam, in order to ensure their dignity and end a dark period in our history. What is happening now is a correction in our historical course and it has taken place in a natural manner. The time has come to get rid of the parasites that have weakened the body of this [Muslim] ummah, and this is reflected in people returning to their original choice [Islam].

[Asharq Al-Awsat] Tel Aviv is afraid that Islamist electoral victories in Arab countries may create a so-called “Sunni ring” around Israel. What is your opinion of this?

[Al-Zahar] Confronting Israel is not restricted to the Sunnis, but is something that all people of this region are contributing to regardless of their religious, sectarian, or ethnic background. Muslims, Christians, Sunnis, Shiites, Arabs, Kurds, Turks, and Berbers…are participating in this confrontation [of Israel]. They confront Israel because it represents the occupier and the rapist. Focusing on one sectarian or doctrinal affiliation serves Israeli propaganda which aims to create division, and this is something that we must be careful about. In any case, Israel has the right to be concerned because the Arabs will not surrender in this regard, and will put an end to this issue.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] What is your assessment of the international opinion towards Hamas, five years after it came to power in the Gaza Strip?

[Al-Zahar] There is real progress in the position of some European countries, and they are in contact with Hamas and with other Islamist groups because they are realistic countries who are trying to serve their interests by dealing with the party that has popular support [in Gaza]. However some European countries have linked their position to the US compass, and we are certain that in time everybody will be forced to recognize the clear Arab and Islamic reality.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] How will the Palestinians benefit from the Arab Spring?

[Al-Zahar] It is enough to pay attention to what happened in the wake of the Eliat attack [resulting in the death of a number of Israelis] when Israel decided to carry out a war campaign against the Gaza Strip, but it went back on this at the last minute following the response of the Egyptian street, which broke into the Israeli embassy in Cairo. This event in particular sent a clear message to the Zionists that it is no longer possible for them to dictate to the Palestinian people and its resistance. There are Arab forces that will back the Palestinian resistance and defend it, and this is what the Zionist leadership has realized. This is the reason behind the Israeli sensitivity towards the Arab Spring, for the Zionists are aware that their ability to continue to repress the Palestinians has been affected to a large extent, therefore they are experiencing a clear state of confusion. The most important development that the Palestinians and Arabs will benefit from is the erosion of the US position.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] Do you truly believe that the Arab Spring will lead to the weakening of the US status internationally?

[Al-Zahar] Certainly, the Arab Spring will result in the decline and reversal of the concept of imperialism as a whole. Note that Iraq was invaded and Afghanistan occupied in order for the US to protect itself, but it is now close to withdrawing its forces leaving behind countries more hostile to America and its interests than before. Whilst America’s so-called war against terrorism has led to the deterioration of its relations with Pakistan. The US occupied Iraq as a means to help realize its interests, and now we see Iraq becoming an enemy of the US and its interests, therefore it is clear that the US is experiencing a period of decline.

Whitewashing the Muslim Brotherhood

Valentina Colombo • November 30, 2011

Once again the West has chosen among the heroes and heroines of the "Arab Spring" the most politicized, and especially the closest, to its short-sighted policies in the Middle East.

Unfortunately, as mentioned by al-Mashari Dhaid on the Arab international daily Asharq al-Awsat, we should never forget that the Nobel Prize for Peace is political, and it "is an instrument of soft pressure to fulfill a specific path of peace or stability, according to a Western perspective."

Mashari al-Dhaid is right when he states that "Tawakkul Karman is not Mother Teresa, but a political activist who acts in accordance with the directives and policies and social needs of her own party." The Yemeni Congregation for Reform, to which Karman belongs, is the party representing the Muslim Brotherhood in Yemen. Tawakkul Karman is 'Abd al-Salam Khalid Karman's daughter, a member of the same party. The Reform Party, as you can easily infer from its political program published on the official website (, acts on behalf of Islam and claims the implementation of sharia law, advocates equality among believers without distinction of sex, even though sharia law states that a woman is worth half the man (see Koran II, 282; IV, 11).

Tawakkul Karman is indeed an activist: a political activist. There is no doubt that she is the symbol of a revolution, but at the same time her victory has to be placed in the continuum of Arab Springs that are witnessing the domination of the organized and economically strong Muslim Brotherhood.

The Nobel Prize follows the International Women of Courage Award assigned to Karman by US State Secretary Hillary Clinton and First Lady Michelle Obama. Everything confirms the US and Western policy of whitewashing the Muslim Brotherhood. And what a better leader and symbol than a young and determined woman like Karman? During an interview, in June 2010, she declared that the day would come when "all human rights violators pay for what they did to Yemen." If she was referring to Yemeni President Saleh, fine; but I wonder if human rights under Sharia -- the law her party would like to introduce in all levels of the country = match universal rights.

"In the name of God Most Gracious, Most Merciful, to sister Tawakkul 'Abd al-Salam Karman, president of Women Journalists Without Chains, a member of the Governing Council of the Yemeni Congregation for Reform (al-tajammu' al-yamani li-al-islah), greetings and appreciation. With great joy we have received, within the Yemeni Congregation for Reform, the announcement of the assignment to your person of the Nobel Prize for Peace as the first Arab woman to receive this award and the first Yemeni personality to enjoy this international attestation of esteem.

"Congratulations for this historic achievement since we believe that this victory is to support the peaceful revolution of Yemen, and a Yemeni woman who fights and who is aware of her ability to win despite the obstacles the legacy of backwardness and tyranny that separate our people from progress."

This is the beginning of a release of October 8th 2010 signed by Muhammad ibn 'Abd Allah al-Yadumi following the announcement of the Nobel Prize for Peace to the Yemeni activist Tawakkul Karman.

Well, many of us were happy because finally an Arab woman, last but not least a symbol of the Yemeni "Spring" had her efforts and courage recognised. Even secular intellectuals like the Yemeni political scientist Elham Manea, of Yemeni origin, who now is living in Switzerland, and the Yemeni writer Ali al-Muqri, have rejoiced.

While in many other countries, Islamic parties are banned, Islah participates in the political process and has even formed a coalition government with the ruling General People's Congress. One significant difference between Islah and other Islamic parties is that it is not purely an Islamic Party. The Islah Party is a heterogeneous party made up of three distinct groups: the tribes, Islamic elements and conservative businessmen. Islah could be described as a reflection of the conservative segments of Yemeni society. Nevertheless, it has an Islamic ideology and pushes for social and economic reform, similarly to other Islamic parties in the region.

Some people even praised Karman as the woman who has "torn" the veil. This is half true: in 2004 during a conference on human rights, the winner of the Nobel Prize for Peace removed her black full veil, worn by the vast majority of Yemeni women, to replace it with a simple veil, which she calls "Islamic." The statement published on the website of her Party after a demonstration celebrate the award says that it is a "source of pride and honor not only for Yemeni women, but also for Arab women and the Islamic veil."

So Karman replaced the traditional black veil -- "un-Islamic"-- in favor of a colorful headscarf that is not so much a symbol of Muslim women, as of the women of the Muslim Brotherhood, or at least of women wearing the veil as a political symbol.

Don't fund the Palestinians

Op-ed: Israel should not finance Palestinian Authority that seeks to destroy Jewish state

Adi Mintz

The gravest problem associated with the Oslo process may have been the masked ball. Fatah terrorists got the trick. They dressed up as peacemakers, put an olive branch in their mouths, but kept their knife behind their back and held it with both hands. On occasion, the truth slips out, the mask is removed from their faces, and their real faces are exposed. The people of Israel want peace and so they beg: Please, continue to fool us; continue to hide behind the masks. However, leftist politicians know the truth. They are well familiar with the real aspirations of Fatah and Hamas, but how will they be elected to the Knesset should the Palestinians no longer put on their masks?

The problem is that the Palestinians also want us to fund the masks. They believe that we believe that they’re credible. It already happened to us in 1996, in the Kotel Tunnel events, during the murderous riots led by Fatah, but after that we were tempted again, and joint IDF-Palestinian Authority patrols got underway.

It happened again when the Second Intifada broke out, under the leadership of the Palestinian Authority, headed by murderer Marwan Barghouti. This Intifada led to the death of thousands of Israelis, until it was defeated during Operation Defensive Shield, using the IDF’s iron first.

Time to rip off masks

However, yet again it appeared to us that they are merely “peacemakers.” But then came a reminder from the Fatah convention less than two years ago, under Mahmoud Abbas’ presidency. Below are a few quotes: “The armed struggle is a strategy rather than a tactic. The armed revolution of the Palestinian Arab people is a decisive element in the campaign for liberating and eliminating the Zionist presence. This struggle shall only end after the Zionist entity’s elimination and Palestine’s liberation. Absolute objection, that cannot be revoked, to recognizing Israel as a ‘Jewish state.’”

The Fatah movement objects to Israel’s Jewishness. This is the backdrop of Abbas’ renewed union with Hamas. Should Israel fund the aspirations to destroy it? Should it fund the thousands of soldiers who train towards eliminating it, when even American General Dayton admitted that should they not get a state, their guns will be directed at us? Should Israel fund the Fatah-Hamas unity government in order to boost the arsenal of missiles to be aimed at Tel Aviv tomorrow?

The time has come to rip off the masks and reveal their true faces.

The writer is a former Yesha Council chairman

Within hours of the 1947 UN partition vote, Arabs massacred 7 Jews

Elder of Ziyon

On November 30, 1947, while Jews were still in the streets of Palestine celebrating the UN partition vote, Arabs murdered seven Jews.

Six of them were on a bus. Arabs threw grenades at an Egged bus traveling from Netanya to Jerusalem, and one exploded inside.

Devora Yaari was injured, and her husband Shalom rushed to her aid. He was shot dead in cold blood.

Shoshana Mizrahi Farhi, 22, was on her way to Jerusalem to get married. She was killed.

The other victims were Hirsh Starer, Mrs. Hanna Weiss, and Miss Haya Yisraeli.

Another Egged bus was attacked a half hour later, and Nechama Hacohen, a pathologist at Hadassah Hospital, was killed.
That same day, buses were fired upon in Haifa and Jerusalem as well, injuring one.

The Palestinian Arabs had been relatively quiet in the months leading up to the partition vote, hoping that a temporary lull in terrorism would convince the UN that they had no desire to destroy the Jewish community.

It didn't take long for them to return to their murderous ways.

In the coming days, there were many more fatal attacks on Jews, and Jews were chased out of their homes as well.

Obama Administration Bans Knowledge of Islam

Raymond Ibrahim
November 30, 2011

The Obama administration's censoring of photographs of the late Osama bin Laden, lest they offend Muslims, is one thing; but what about censoring words, especially those pivotal to U.S. security?

The Daily Caller reveals that "the Obama administration has been pulling back all training materials used for the law enforcement and national security communities, in order to eliminate all references to Islam that some Muslim groups have claimed are offensive." The move comes after complaints from advocacy organizations including the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and others identified as Muslim Brotherhood front groups in the 2004 Holy Land Foundation terror fundraising trial. In a Wednesday Los Angeles Times op-ed, Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) president Salam al-Marayati threatened the FBI with a total cutoff of cooperation between American Muslims and law enforcement if the agency failed to revise its law enforcement training materials. Maintaining the training materials in their current state "will undermine the relationship between law enforcement and the Muslim American community," al-Marayati wrote. Multiple online sources detail MPAC's close alignment with CAIR. In his op-ed, Al-Marayati demanded that the Justice Department and the FBI "issue a clear and unequivocal apology to the Muslim American community" and "establish a thorough and transparent vetting process in selecting its trainers and materials."

Accordingly, after discussing the matter with Attorney General Eric Holder, Dwight C. Holton said "I want to be perfectly clear about this: training materials that portray Islam as a religion of violence or with a tendency towards violence are wrong, they are offensive, and they are contrary to everything that this president, this attorney general and Department of Justice stands for. They will not be tolerated."

Even before these Muslim complaints and threats, President Obama alluded to censoring words when he said soon after taking office: "Words matter … because one of the ways we're going to win this struggle ["war on terror"] is through the battle of [Muslims'] hearts and minds" (followed by things like commissioning NASA to make Muslims "feel good" about themselves).

As if there were not already a lamentable lack of study concerning Muslim law war doctrine in the curriculum of American military studies—including in the Pentagon and U.S. Army War College—the administration's more aggressive censorship program will only exacerbate matters. Last year's Quarterly Defense Report [QDR], a strategic document, does not mention anything remotely related to Islam—even as it stresses climate change, which it sees as an "accelerant of instability and conflict" around the world.

This attempt to whitewash Islam goes back to a 2008 government memo that not only warned against "offending," "insulting," or being "confrontational" to Muslims, but tried to justify such censorship as follows:

Never use the terms "jihadist" or "mujahideen" in conversation to describe the terrorists. A mujahed, a holy warrior, is a positive characterization in the context of a just war. In Arabic, jihad means "striving in the path of God" and is used in many contexts beyond warfare. Calling our enemies jihadis and their movement a global jihad unintentionally legitimizes their actions [emphasis added].

Aside from the fact that the above definitions are highly misleading, the notion that the words we use can ever have an impact on what is and is not legitimate for Muslims is beyond incompetant: Muslims are not waiting around for Americans or their government—that is, the misguided, the deluded, in a word, the infidel—to define Islam for them. For Muslims, only Sharia law determines right and wrong: whatever falls inside Shra law is right; whatever falls outside Sharia law is wrong.

The U.S. government needs to worry less about which words appease Muslims and worry more about providing its intelligence community—not to mention its own citizenry—with accurate knowledge concerning the nature of the threat.

Without words related to Islam, how are analysts to make sense of the current conflict? What are the goals and motivations of the jihadists? What are their methods? Who might be "radicalizing" them? With whom are they affiliated? Who supports them? These and a host of other questions are unintelligible without free use of words related to Islam.

Knowledge is linked to language: the more precise the language, the more precise the knowledge. In the current conflict, to acquire accurate knowledge, which is essential to victory, we need to begin with accurate language.

This means U.S. intelligence analysts and policymakers need to be able to use, and fully appreciate the significance of, words related to Islam—starting with the word "Islam" itself: Submission—to a worldview based on Sharia law, a set of assumptions and imperatives thoroughly different from those in Western common law. Whatever falls inside Sharia law is right – including unequal justice under law; religious and gender inequality under law; criminalization of lifestyle choices as well as freedom of religion and speech – and whatever falls outside Sharia law is wrong.

It means the U.S. military needs to begin expounding and studying Islamic law and war doctrine—without fear of reprisal, such as when counter-terrorism strategist Stephen Coughlin was fired by the Pentagon for focusing on Islamic doctrine and therefore being politically incorrect. It means America's leadership needs to take that ancient dictum—"Know thy enemy"—seriously.

Raymond Ibrahim, a Middle East/Islam specialist and author of The Al Qaeda Reader, is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum.

Israelis save drowning Iranians

Drama in Thailand as Israeli lifeguards save two drowning Iranians. 'When we told them we were Israeli they just got up and fled'

Reuven Weiss
11.29.11, 13:14 / Israel News

Nimrod Machani (27) has been working as a Tel Aviv coast lifeguard for four years. His father Shimshon, 60, was employed as a seaman for many years and between voyages, also worked as a Tel Aviv lifeguard.

Two years ago Shimshon moved to Koh Samui, Thailand where he opened a surfboat business for local tourists. At the end of the summer season in Israel, Nimrod decided to visit his father in Thailand and help him in setting up the new business. Last week the father-son team went out on their daily rowing course. "The weather here is tropical," Shimshon explained. "Things can change in a second. And indeed, on the way back, the weather changed all at once. The winds got stronger and the waves grew tall."

Suddenly, they noticed two swimmers who were crying out for help. "Their Kayak had overturned in the storm and was swept away, they were left alone in the water," said Shimshon. "They didn't have much of a chance."

The two lifeguards rowed towards the drowning men. "When we reached them they were already at the point of exhaustion," nimrod noted. " "We loaded them on to the surf boat and kept rowing towards the shore, a kilometer away."

For 45 minutes the two battled against the winds and the waves with the swimmers on board. "When they came around and started talking among themselves I noticed they were speaking in Persian. I was born in Iran and speak the language. I told them in Persian: 'Don't be scared, you're in good hands," Shimshon recalls.

When they reached the shore the two, who introduced themselves as Mundar and Ali, hugged and kissed their rescuers and thanked them.

"When we told them we're Israelis they just got up and fled," Nimrod noted.

David Regev contributed to this report

COP: U.N. Needs To Stop, Reassess

Craig Rucker

Executive Director, The Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow

With the science anything but settled and the proposed solutions incredibly harmful to world economies, the world will be far better off if no new climate treaty comes out of Durban.

The good news is that the prospects for a new commitment period in the model of the Kyoto Protocol seem slim. The differences between the developed and developing world's negotiating positions are too great. Couple this with a U.S. Senate that will not ratify a new treaty (our allies have made clear that they do not want to go it alone again) and a full out, binding treaty, would surprise everyone. However, there is much at stake in Durban for carbon profiteers who bet their financial futures on an endless flow of global warming cash. Kyoto's carbon markets are set to expire in 2012 which could send would-be carbon traders out in search of gainful employment. Alternative energy corporations also face lean times ahead if the developed world's appetite for subsidies and guarantees continues to dry up (a drought which will only accelerate in the absence of a treaty). The public is catching on to plants that are more designed to generate subsidies than power. At some point (if we want the lights to stay on) energy generation has to be about the power, not the freebies. Let's certainly not forget the researchers, climate campaigners and third world bureaucrats all whom have developed an unhealthy sense of entitlement to the productive world's tax dollars.

With billions and hoped for trillions at stake, Durban remains of crucial importance whether a full treaty emerges or not. The climate powers that be may wish for a treaty, but aim to keep their cash flowing by any means necessary. They retooled after the UN's massive failure at Copenhagen and now use simpler tactics such as smaller more specific agreements (a neat way to bypass the U.S. Senate) to accomplish their ends. Recent conferences created new ways to cash in. The REDD program has western speculators buying up land in developing nations in the name of forestry, but in fact to cash in on huge subsidy payments. This is a shameful example of eco-imperialism (as CFACT adviser Paul Driessen would put it). The “Green Climate Fund” is the darling of the developing world. UNFCCC Secretary Christiana Figueres and others recently expressed their hope to expand it from $100 to $400 billion. At a recent conference in Bonn one developing world delegate (upon learning that CFACT's staffer was an American) wanted only to know, “when are you going to send us our money?”

This week saw the disclosure of a huge new batch of emails in what is being called “Climategate 2.0.” These emails provide a shockingly candid look at the machinations of the high priests of global warming. No open minded reader can review those emails and fail to see an insular cadre of climate scientists coordinating efforts to place advocacy ahead of science, stifle dissent and conceal any information which detracts from a preconceived, ideologically driven, global warming narrative (full details at

It is clear that climate science is not settled. Couple that with policies proposed to address global warming that are ineffective, economically devastating and already open to the worst kind of looting of the public purse. The only conclusion is that the UNFCCC should call an immediate halt to climate propagandizing, throw the profiteers out of the tent, stop, reassess and come back with sober, disciplined proposals, or none at all.

Stop Obama's Big Union Onslaught

Mike Brownfield

November 30, 2011

What does it take to bring an airline to its knees? Uncompetitive union-negotiated labor contracts and a fundamental unwillingness to recognize that in a down economy, unions have a hard time raising wages without destroying jobs.

That was a lesson that unions refused to learn in the case of American Airlines, which yesterday announced that it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, making it the last large U.S. full-fare airline to seek court protection from creditors. American was forced to take that action when the airline pilots union refused to budge on its demands for massive signing bonuses and wage increases. The airline’s competitors are flying high in profits after restructuring union contracts in their own bankruptcy proceedings.

Unions also didn’t learn any lessons after taxpayers bailed out General Motors and Chrysler, and then-White House “auto-czar” Ron Bloom gave the UAW preferential treatment in the restructuring process despite their contracts being largely at fault. And, this is a lesson that still has not penetrated the walls of the Obama White House. The President’s appointees to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) want businesses to be unionized at all costs, even if it means harming both workers and the economy. They’re trying to make it happen by ramming through measures that would help expand unionization in America.

Today, the U.S. House of Representatives will vote on the Workplace Democracy and Fairness Act, introduced by Committee on Education and the Workforce Chairman John Kline (R-MN). The bill protects the right of workers to decide whether or not to unionize. That’s a right that the NLRB would like to drastically weaken.

One tack the Obama NLRB is taking is implementing “snap elections” which Heritage labor expert James Sherk says are designed to prevent employees from making an informed choice about unionizing.

The policy shortens the election period from six weeks to as little as 10 days, depriving companies of their ability to explain to workers the darker side of unionization, including strike histories, dues increases, and union corruption. Meanwhile, union leaders would have months to try to sell workers on their side of the story through rose-colored glasses.

The NLRB is set to vote on the new rule today, but it’s possible that their efforts could be forestalled if the lone Republican on the board resigns or withholds participation in the vote, depriving the NLRB of the quorum it needs to issue regulations.

Their earlier gambit — known as “micro unions” — redefines who gets to vote on unionizing a particular workplace. Instead of workers with a shared “community of interest” forming a single bargaining unit and voting together on unionizing (think cashiers, shelf-stockers, and greeters at a grocery store), now the Obama NLRB has allowed unions to form cherry-picked bargaining units of their supporters. Sherk explains how the new rule would impact workers:

If most workers at a store oppose unionizing, but a union has majority support among the cashiers, it can now form a union of just the cashiers. The shelf-stockers and greeters would not get a vote.

Unionizing brings risks to the entire workplace. The Obama NLRB has allowed unions to selectively disenfranchise the workers who do not want to take that risk.

All of this is occurring despite the fact that only one in 10 non-union workers say they want to unionize. What’s more, unionized companies invest less, are less competitive, and create fewer jobs than non-union companies. Given these facts, it’s no surprise that union membership has shrunk to just 7 percent in the private sector. Likewise, though, it’s not surprising that the Obama NLRB is digging in and trying to foist unionization on all companies while it still can.

Kline’s bill attempts to prevent that from happening by guaranteeing that union elections are not held until workers have at least 35 days to hear from both sides, ensuring that employers have at least 14 days to find legal counsel before any legal proceedings begin, preventing unions from cherry-picking which workers can vote, and protecting privacy by letting workers decide which contact information to release to union organizers.

Kline says, “It’s very clear to me that we’re seeing the rights of employers and employees under attack.” And he’s right. Workers have a right to organize unions, but they should have a right not to organize them as well. Reforms like the ones Kline is proposing help protect that right.

Quick Hits:

Despite declaring a moratorium on earmarks, some Members of the House and Senate have tried to insert hundreds of spending provisions into at least 10 bills in the summer and fall.
More than 200 Occupy Wall Street protesters were arrested in Los Angeles early this morning after an unlawful assembly was declared and the protesters refused to leave. Few protesters now remain in the camp.
Some two million workers in the United Kingdom went on strike today in protest over proposed pension reforms. Workers in schools, hospitals, police stations, and airports are among those off the job.
Britain is withdrawing its diplomatic staff from Iran following the storming of its embassy in Tehran on Tuesday. British Foreign Secretary William Hague is expected to make a statement to Parliament on how the nation will retaliate.
The Grumpy Troll Restaurant and Brewpub is one of over 22,000 companies that received $16,000 cash grants from the federal government to install solar panels on their roofs. Read more at

When Romanticism Trumps Reason You Get Radical Chic Catastrophes

Barry Rubin

The radical is always the more glamorous. People wear Che Guevara tee-shirts. They don’t wear Samuel Gompers, A. Phillip Randolph, Edouard Bernstein, Karl Kautsky, or Jean Jaures tee-shirts, yet those largely forgotten social democratic and labor heroes achieved far more benefit for reform and workers without murdering a lot of people.

Rosa Luxembourg, the nastiest rich spoiled brat in Zamosc, is fondly remembered though her career was a disaster and helped create the conditions that eventually brought about Nazism. Who knows about Frances Perkins, who did far more to help workers and was the first woman ever to be in the cabinet of an American president? Thus, two things are certain. The extremist has better public relations and the extremist fails. Either he’s defeated, perhaps killed (dying the secular equivalent of the martyr’s death) or gains power, becomes horribly repressive, and messes up society big-time. In modern times, Yasir Arafat has been the king (perhaps I should say sultan) of lost causes, a fact which made him lionized in Europe.

Ah, the romance of the lost cause. Once the province of Irish Republicans, Polish nationalists, and sons or daughters of the Confederacy, the lost cause has an intense emotional appeal. There’s something stirring about defeat. And if you lose, you can’t be one of those evil rulers who actually have to show what your policies can do. At Civil War reenactments there are always more people wanting to be Confederates than Union soldiers. But if the Confederacy had won the Civil War, the ensuing additional decades of slavery would have put a damper on contemporary enthusiasm.

The same applies to the slave labor camps of Joe Stalin, or at least it should. But if the radicals do gain power, Hollywood actors can always go to visit Venezuelan dictators and glory in the man of action with the big mouth and the iron fist as he stamps on his demonized but actually helpless enemies.

A Czech friend of mine who was a leading dissident (and paid the price for his genuine heroism) recalls how Western radicals came to his country during the Communist period. Some sucked up to the ruthless dictators as if they were people’s heroes; others lectured democratic reformers who were facing terrible repression about how Communism would really work if it were only managed somewhat differently.

All of these reflections come as a result of the open revival of the far left in the West, and especially in America. In recent years, the far left has prospered by pretending to be liberal. All of the dreams in the 1930s about infiltrating liberal organizations and taking over the Democratic Party have now come true.

But that doesn’t seem to be enough as the Occupy movement seeks to bring back the good old days of Stalinism. To hold such a position means that no one ever taught you at university anything about democratic political philosophy or the gaping holes in Marxism, not to mention the record of what Communism did when it was in power.

Marx famously wrote that history repeats itself the first time as tragedy and the second time as farce. So what does that make the third time?

Yes, what makes this all so intensely bizarre is this comes after the failure not only of Communism but even of European social democracy. To argue today that the destruction of capitalism is a good thing requires a much higher level of isolation from reality than it did in the past.

Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that democratic socialist parties have done many good things in the past in Europe but have now outlived their usefulness in large part because they have gone too far. The pendulum has swung so far over in terms of debt, taxation, regulation, insane Political Correctness, and suicidal multiculturalism that the clock has fallen over with a crash.

Maybe that’s why for any people the clock seems to have stopped in the 1890s (rapacious capitalism; helpless downtrodden workers), the 1930s (starving downtrodden workers who just want a piece of the pie), or the 1960s (imperialist wars against nice Communists).

The other source for my thinking such thoughts is the fact that I’m currently completing a book with the prominent German historian, Wolfgang G. Schwanitz, entitled, Nazis, Radical Arabs, and the Making of the Modern Middle East. After perusing hundreds of pages of newly released documents and never-before-translated German-language materials, we’ve discovered the true story of the alliance between the Nazis and Middle Eastern radicals (both militant Arab nationalists and Islamists).

To put it in one sentence, what made the Middle East different from every other place in the world is that there the Nazi collaborators won. They weren’t just clients or students of the German national socialists but rather on an equal footing, with parallel ideas of their own. These included hatred of the West, desire to commit genocide against the Jews, belief that a repressive regime was best able to achieve progress, a willingness to fight for total victory rather than compromise, and similar characteristics.

What makes this evaluation incredibly timely is that the “Arab Spring’ is not changing this tradition but merely continuing it. The radicals defeated the moderates in the 1930s and early 1940s but were set back by their foolish alliance with the Axis. They then came back in the late 1940s and the 1950s to wipe out the moderates completely, seizing power in most of the Arab world and intellectual hegemony in all of it. The nationalist radicals also suppressed their old Islamist partners

Here we go again. It's the Islamists' turn this time to follow the same pattern as they dispose of their former, nationalist partners while simultaneously wiping the floor with the moderates.

Why do people keep choosing a path that leads to disaster? For many reasons, one of them being that it can be portrayed as glamorous, heroic, and devoted to justice. Why should we expect more of the Middle East when even Western societies which have full access to historic reality and political philosophy are ready to jump off the cliff?

Professor Barry Rubin, Director, Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center
The Rubin Report blog
He is a featured columnist at PJM
Editor, Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal
Editor Turkish Studies,

Europeans hold 60 ‘Boycott Israel’ actions in 10 countries

Saed Bannoura & BDS Movement press release - IMEMC News Report post

In a European Day of Action under the banner ‘Take Apartheid off the Menu’, human rights activists in ten countries held actions on Saturday calling on consumers to boycott food products made in Israeli settlements, and urging supermarkets to stop carrying Israeli settlement-made products.

'Take apartheid off the menu' in England - image from

Organizers of the campaign claim that fruit and vegetable imports from Israeli settlements facilitate violations of Palestinian rights and international law. The campaign is focused on leading Israeli fruit and vegetable exporters Mehadrin and Agrexco, among others.

Demonstrations were held outside the British and French headquarters of leading Israeli fruit and vegetable exporter Mehadrin, which exports produce from illegal Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory, and which activists say works with state owned company Mekerot to deprive Palestinian communities of water. Campaigners in Rome organized a Palestine contingent on a national demonstration for affordable access to water. Jamal Juma’, coordinator with Stop the Wall, the Palestinian anti-apartheid wall campaign that is currently working to support Al Hadidiye, a Bedouin community in occupied Palestinian territory recently served with demolition orders by the Israeli authorities, said, “The residents of Al Hadidye are denied access to water and can only rear livestock as a result. In the nearby illegal settlements of Ro’I and Beqa’ot, agricultural produce is grown with an abundance of stolen water for export to Europe by Mehadrin and other companies, and it is these companies that stand to benefit from the threatened demolitions at Al Hadidye.”

“Companies like Mehadrin profit from and are often directly involved in the ongoing colonisation of Palestinian land and theft of our resources. Trade with such companies constitutes a major form of support for Israel’s apartheid regime over the Palestinian people and must be brought to an end,” Juma’ added.

Campaigners in Belgium, Britain, Germany, Switzerland, Norway and Sweden picketed supermarkets, calling on consumers to boycott products from Israeli agricultural export companies and on supermarkets to stop selling them. Many focused on Co-Operative supermarkets, which are traditionally thought to have higher ethical standards than other high street supermarkets.

“Popular BDS campaigns and the public pressure that results from them have already forced supermarkets in a number of European countries to implement policies they claim prevent the sale of produce from Israel’s illegal colonies,” said Hind Awwad, coordinator with the Palestinian BDS National Committee.

“But it’s Israel’s agricultural export companies that bear responsibility for complicity with Israel’s violations of international law, not the individual pieces of produce. These companies have been proven to mislead consumers about the origin of the produce they sell. That’s why campaigners are calling for a complete end to trade with these companies,” she added.

In Belgium, campaigners held lobby actions at the offices of the Ministry of the Economy, to protest the sale in Belgian supermarkets of produce grown in Israel’s illegal settlements in occupied Palestinian territory.

The actions took place as part of the rapidly emerging Palestinian-led movement for boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with international law.



How Socialism Took Root in American Education

Diane Kepus

John Dewey (1859 – 1952) is regarded as a great reformer of American education. One of his prime influences was an early advocate of socialism called Robert Owen.

Robert Owen played a large role in Dewey’s formulating ideas. Owen was a social and educational reformer. He was one of the founders of socialism and the cooperative movement. Owen believed that moral reform could only come through the reform of the environment. Once Owen gained ownership of New Lanark, he began to put his vision for its factories and schools into place.

Living in New Lanark, Scotland in the late 1700’s, Owen had the opportunity to purchase the Chorlton Twist Co. Owen openly admired how the previous owner had shown respect for the children of the people working for him which included children. He then went on to purchase the Lanark Company where he found conditions deplorable and implemented a standard of hygiene. The community as a whole found his concern for the welfare of his workers admirable. At a time when workers in the mills of New Lanark needed saving, Owen provided his workers with decent housing, and banned children under 10 years old from working in his mills. He argued against physical punishment in schools and factories, as well he ensured that this was a standard upheld in his own facilities. Owen hoped that his treatment of children would influence other factory owners to do the same.

Owen’s ideas were shaped by the Scottish Enlightenment and his contact with progressive ideas in Manchester, England as a member of the Literary and Philosophical Society. His general theory was that character is formed by the effects of the environment upon the individual. Hence, education was of central importance to the creation of rational and humane character and the duty of the educator was to provide the wholesome environment, both mental and physical, in which the child could develop. Physical punishment was prohibited and child labor was restricted. In theory, man being naturally good, could grow and flourish when evil was removed. Education, as one historian has put it, was to the "steam engine of his new moral world."

At New Lanark, Owen involved himself in the public affairs of the day, the most important being education, factory reform, and the improvement of the Poor Laws. His first public speech was on education (1812) and was elaborated upon in his first published work, The First Essay on the Principle of the Formation of Character (1813). Together with three further essays (1813-1814), this comprised A New View of Society, which remains Owen’s clearest declaration of principles. In 1816, he opened the New Institution for the Formation of Character and then the Infant School.

Since most children were taken out of school by age 10, Owen offered evening classes, which allowed the children to continue their education while working. Considering the cost of books, paper, and ink, the schooling was nearly free.

Owen’s denunciation of religion evoked a mounting negative campaign against him which in later years damaged his public reputation and the work associated with his name. By the late 1820s, Owen’s roots in New Lanark were loosening. Owen now set about his mission to bring about the new moral world through his plan for well-regulated communities. England, Scotland and Ireland seemed indifferent, but the United States opened up new prospects and in 1824 Owen crossed the Atlantic and viewed the Rappite community at Harmony, Indiana, which was for sale. (Rappite being a Religious Celibate society called the Harmony Society). Owen bought the land in April 1825, initiating New Harmony. The New Harmony community was not a success. By May 1827, there were ten different sub-communities on the estate, and a year later failure was apparent.

About the same time, Owen became convinced that the world of competitive industrial capitalism had reached a stage of crisis and that the leaders of society would now turn to him in their hour of need. What Owen was offering the working class Owenites was social salvation!

These views were expressed in his weekly periodical, The Crisis (1832-1834), and had a following particularly among the labor aristocrats of London who sought to exchange their products according to the labor theory of value at the Gray's Inn Road Labour Exchange, which Owen opened in 1832.

Breaking with these labor movements in 1834, Owen turned back to his plan for a community and founded a journal, The New Moral World (November, 1834) and an organization, the Association of All Classes of All Nations (May, 1835) to prepare public opinion for the millennium.

In the 1840s, Owen embarked on a new settlement. He secured capital from a consortium of capitalist friends and built a luxurious mansion, Harmony Hall, to house a community "normal school" which would train Owenites in a correct communitarian environment. Owen’s concept of a "normal school" was not what many Owenites had hoped for, and in 1844 the annual Owenites Congress rebelled against his despotic control of community policy.

From the age of two the children were cared for and instructed by the community. The youngest spent the day in play school until they progressed to higher classes. There the Greek and Latin classics were discarded; practice in various crafts constituted an essential part of the program. The teachers aimed to impart what the children could most readily understand, making use of concrete objects and avoiding premature abstractions. They banished fear, all artificial rewards and punishments and appealed instead to the spontaneous interest and inclinations of the children as incentives for learning. Girls were on an equal footing with boys.

The educational reformers of the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries dealt with the two, what they thought, were distinct aspects of a young child’s problems. One concerned the claims of childhood as a specific and independent stage in human growth. This perennial problem arises from the efforts of adults to subjecting growing children to ends foreign of their own needs and two, pressing them into molds shaped not by the requirements of the maturing personality, but by the external interests of the ruling order.

Owen put a lot of emphasis on observation and experience as a means of educating. Visual aids, diagrams, pictures, and models were incorporated into lessons and were thought to help facilitate learning. However, toys were never used. Owen believed that children could amuse themselves and if they became bored the teacher would provide something that would educate and interest them. Lectures, when they took place, were to be made short and stimulating, as to make the lesson memorable and compensate for the students' short attention spans. In addition, lessons on dancing and singing played a key role in the students' education, a vast contrast to the education of the present. Furthermore, military style exercises were a major feature of Owen's schools. School marches and uniforms were incorporated to reinforce conformity.

The word "socialism" first became current in the discussions of the "Association of all Classes of all Nations" which Owen formed in 1835 with himself as Preliminary Father. During these years his secularist teaching gained such influence among the working classes as to give occasion for the statement in the Westminster Review (1839) that his principles were the actual creed of a great portion of them.

In 1854, at the age of 83, despite his previous antipathy to religion, Owen was converted to spiritualism after a series of "sittings" with the American medium Maria B. Hayden (credited with introducing spiritualism to England). Owen made a public profession of his new faith in his publication “The Rational” a quarterly review and later wrote a pamphlet entitled “The future of the Human race; or great glorious and future revolution to be effected through the agency of departed spirits of good and superior men and women.”

After Owen's death spiritualists claimed that his spirit dictated the "Seven Principles of Spiritualism" to the medium Emma Hardinge Britten in 1871.

This article is part of a series on the history and development of education in America. For Part One, read here. Contributing Editor Diane Kepus is a regular contributor to several web sites addressing Agenda 21 and education in America. She is a researcher, wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother who sees the damage being done to our country because of our public education system. Her own web site is

Muslim Anti-Semitism and the Arab Spring

Sultan Knish

Western columnists eager to bestow their blessing on the democratic impulses of the Arab Spring are troubled by its darker side, the bigotry, the sexual violence and religious fanaticism. Rather than admit that they may have gotten the Arab Spring wrong, they look at its dark side as an external factor, rather than an internal one.

Case in point, Jeffrey Goldberg's recitation of Anti-Semitism in the Arab Spring leads to the same baffled attempts to understand. "On the surface this makes no sense: Arabs are rising up against Arabs, so what does this have to do with the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion”?" he asks.

The question isn't all that baffling if you look back at the historical context of the Protocols which emerged from the poison pens of two secret police agents of two different countries seeking ways to stifle reform by associating their opponents with a vast Jewish conspiracy. It took place in a century where the left and the right spent a good deal of time accusing each other of working for the Jews. That century gave way to the next one where they stopped writing essays and began running death camps. The Muslim world is still backward enough to be besotted with the worst lunacy of the period, the Masonic conspiracy is an article of faith for most Islamists, right up there with the Koran, Mein Kampf is a bestseller and Fascism and Communism are admired in a way that horrifies the Eurocrats who visit from time to time. Grand conspiracy theories explain everything and everyone is assumed to have a complex secret agenda.

But those aren't the sources of the Anti-Semitism in the Arab Spring. Nor is Israel. The fundamental error that is made over and over again is to assume that Muslim attitudes toward the Jews emerge out of politics rather than theology. While Israel certainly looms large in the Muslim imagination, the image of the Jews as the nemesis of Islam is of ancient theological provenance dating back to Mohammed's efforts to ethnically cleanse the region of non-Muslim minorities.

When Arab Spring mobs paint the Star of David on pictures of dictators or call them Jews, they are using an old insult. To call someone a "Jew" in the Arab world is the equivalent of calling him a dog. There is no special racial slur needed, "Jew" is already enough.

The reason for this isn't Israel or Gaza or Lebanon-- it's that Jews were a minority in the Muslim world. While the Islamists and the Arab Nationalists, along with their Western useful idiots, insist on spreading their revisionist history of a golden age of tolerance and brotherhood that ended abruptly in 1948, the truth is that being a minority in the Arab Muslim world was dangerous and degrading. And long after the Muslim world has been emptied of Jews, "Yahood" still remains an insult.

When Thomas Friedman heard that a nickname for many American soldiers in Iraq was "The Jews", in his usual clueless fashion he wrote up an extended column about Sharon, Israel and the peace process. But Friedman missed the point. Arab Muslims have been calling people they don't like "Jews" long before the modern State of Israel.

But in a conspiracy rich environment, "Yahood" is also often meant a literal accusation that someone actually is a Jew. Forcible and the occasional voluntary conversion of Jews to Islam created its own paranoid obsession with "Secret Jews" in the Muslim world. And some forcibly converted Jewish communities such as the "Jedid Al-Islam" did remain secretly Jewish while pretending outwardly to be Muslim. This is a special obsession in Turkey where the conversion of cult members known as the Donmeh led to accusations that the Young Turk movement was a Jewish conspiracy.

The prototype for the accusations that the dictators are Jewish was the light-skinned and blue-eyed Kemal Ataturk. His supposed Jewishness remains a special obsession for Turkish Islamists, albeit one that is still illegal for them to articulate. That obsession also spells out the difference between the United States and the Muslim world. If it were to be discovered that George Washington had a Jewish father, it wouldn't delegitimize the United States. But Muslim states are still based on ethnic or religious grounds. And the best way to undermine Ataturk's attempt to drag Turkey into the modern age is to not merely claim that Ataturk wasn't a Turk and an enemy of Islam (both true)... but that he was a Jew.

The utility of accusing Ataturk of being a Jew is obvious. It's a charge that bypasses the need to attack his ideas or debate their legitimacy. Once he is a Jew then it is a given that he was part of a vast conspiracy and that everything he did was wrong. "Jew" is not only shorthand for dog, it's also shorthand for enemy.

If accusing Ataturk of being Jewish doesn't seem that crazy, try the Saudi royal family whom the Lebanese Minister of the Environment accused of secretly being the Jewish tribe that had been ethnically cleansed by Mohammed. From the standpoint of Islamic theology this makes perfect sense. It recycles the ancient Jewish enemy into a current foe.

Hate the Wahhabis? Then just go ahead and claim that Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab's grandfather wasn't really Suleyman but Shullman. What about Mubarak? He must have had a Jewish mother. Gaddafi's mother being a Jew is now a common belief in Libya. Those wonderful democratic Syrian protesters are shouting, "Alawi Jews" referring to the Alawi quasi-Shiite minority sect that rules the country. Even Ahmadinejad got hammered with accusations that he was a Jew.

No matter how rabidly Anti-Semitic a Muslim leader may be, he cannot escape the possibility that sooner or later someone will accuse him of being a secret Jew. If the Saudis and Ahmadinejad aren't safe, then no one is.

Goldberg and Friedman both mistake a preexisting situation for a new phenomenon. Conspiracy theories to explain everything have been widespread for a long time, not just as a tool of dictators. Blaming outsiders for whatever goes wrong and then connecting those outsiders to a political faction you hate is as common as sand.

But the larger mistake is that they fail to grasp what the Arab Spring is. It's a series of populist movements based around theocratic and nationalistic ideology. Such movements naturally position ethnic and religious minorities as outsiders and enemies. Which is why churches in Egypt began burning and friendly mobs showed up outside a synagogue in Tunis to recount what happened back when Mohammed began his campaign against the Jews.

Tyranny is a vague idea. The Jews are a very specific idea. Tyranny means illegitimate rule, but what makes it illegitimate? The Arab Spring activists will answer that it is undemocratic. Why is it undemocratic, because it fails to represent the majority. And how do they prove that the tyrant fails to represent the majority? By claiming that he really works for the Jews.

It's a fairly simple formula that isn't limited to the Muslim world. The left leaned heavily on it to charge that the Iraq War was illegitimate because it was a project of the Jews. Tomes on the Israel lobby attack foreign policy not on its merits, but on "Jewishness". And it's no coincidence that of all the Democratic senators who voted for the war, the one ruthlessly targeted for destruction by the left was Joe Lieberman.

Goldberg suggests that, "The Arab Spring should liberate people not only from oppressive rulers, but also from self-destructive and delusional patterns of belief." Having conceded that the Arab Spring is rotten with Anti-Semitism, his proposal is that the Arab Spring should liberate the Arab Spring from being the Arab Spring. And perhaps Goldberg should try to lift himself up by his own belt. That will work just as well.

All Arab and Muslim movements are founded on "self-destructive and delusional patterns of belief". Take those away and you're left with some spicy food and curious architecture. All of them also pretend to unify the people around a common identity and in opposition to outside forces that seek to undermine that identity.

From the time of Mohammed onward, the Jews have played the role of the "outside force" that is out to undermine Arab and Muslim unity. When Arab leaders tell Western diplomats that Israel is the source of regional instability, that is what they mean. In Islamic terms they are charging the Jews with "Fitna" and Western diplomats and journalists strip away the theology from the accusation and pretend that it's a serious policy statement.

The Sunni Muslim world still believes that it can form a secure common identity if only it could get rid of Israel, and then the Christians, Shiites, Alawis and all the other "outside forces" who are a barrier to the harmonious brotherhood of the Ummah. That combination of theology and politics is what drives the Anti-Semitism of the Muslim world and of its theological and nationalist movements including its latest one.

There is no reason to be surprised by Anti-Semitism in the Arab Spring. The Muslim Middle East has failed to break with the poisonous religious and ethnic politics of the past. The Arab Spring is a continuation of those same toxic politics under the banner of democracy. The fragility of Arab and Muslim identity, its insecurity and instability, the unworkability of its structure, always requires enemies to serve as a focus and shoulder the blame. And in every season, spring, summer, winter or fall, that group has been the Jews.

Who Killed The Next One Hundred People Like Rafiq Tagi? You Did

“The stars are dead. The animals will not look./We are left alone with our day, and the time is short, and/History to the defeated/may say Alas but cannot help nor pardon.” –W.H. Auden, “Spain, 1937”

By Barry Rubin

You’ve almost certainly never heard of Rafiq Tagi but the drip-drip drumbeat that has so long made much of the Middle East into a living Hell is like the drops of his blood. Tagi was an Azerbaijaini writer of courage. He was stabbed by two men in Baku on the night of November 19. Five days later he died in a hospital bed. Sixty-one years old.

Here is his funeral. It is a Muslim funeral. Not many mourners. Certainly not enough. agi was one of those guys who had real guts and real convictions even though he knew for certain that his life was at risk every day. Not like the well-paid, safe and secure people who tremble about telling the truth so often found among the exalted intellectuals of the West. He said what he thought about his own government, criticized Islamism, and lambasted the regime of Iran which was not far from his home in Baku. The Iranian regime especially hated him.

Who killed Tagi? I asked a trusted friend in Baku who replied, “We don’t know for sure but everyone believes it was the Iranian regime.”

In 2007 he was sentenced to three years in jail for an article the previous year in which he said what he thought and even had included some of the Danish “Muhammad cartoons.” The president of the country pardoned him eight months later. Azerbaijan is a dictatorship but not a bloodthirsty totalitarian one. It’s the kind of dictatorship that the West likes to see overthrown even if it replaced by a bloodthirsty totalitarian one.

But the Azerbaijanis are scared, both government and a lot of the people. They wanted to have a modern, relatively secular state, prosperous and with equality for women. Naturally, they chose as a role model Turkey. Then they watched to their horror as Turkey turned into an Islamist-oriented country. The walls are closing in on them.

When Tagi wrote his aforementioned article the Iranian Grand Ayatollah Fazel Lankarani issued a fatwa calling for Tagi’s death.

That’s a fit measure of the difference between a country like Azerbaijan—three years’ sentence but quickly pardoned—and Iran—murder.

Tagi’s lawyer said, “If the criminals are not punished, then not a single dissident in Azerbaijan will be able to be safe.”

Why stop there? Can a single moderate whether secularist or someone who wants to interpret Islam in a more liberal way feel safe in Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Libya, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, or other places that can be named? What is the trend? In the countries where Westerner are celebrating democracy there are going to be a lot of such funerals.

Western intellectuals should be fighting for people like Tagi. They should be raising funds, reading his work, holding demonstrations and meetings of support for his counterparts in Iran, Turkey, and the Arabic-speaking world. Not a day should pass when such people aren’t being celebrated.

Shall I recite the names of those intellectuals who have been murdered by the Islamists, including the Arab world’s greatest novelist, Naguib Mahfouz, who survived the knife wounds by the luck of inches?

Yet the cheers are reserved for the terrorists and those who incite them. Shame, shame, and more shame.

My friends, mark my words: This is only the beginning.

In Cairo, a well-known Egyptian female journalist has just been sexually assaulted by soldiers while covering a demonstration. She certainly did not deserve such a fate. But this same journalist has been prominent in asserting—insulting those who disagreed, I’m told–that everything was going just fine with the revolution. In fact, she asserted, it was a revolution that was liberating Egyptian women.

This phenomenon is widespread now, especially in Egypt. Liberal reformers publicly insist that there are no problems, no real threat from Islamists. Yet the same people privately tremble for their country’s, and their own, future.

We are in the midst of a disgrace. Thousands of anti-Israel, pro-Hamas, and pro-Hizballah demonstrations have been held on campuses. Has there been one in defense of democratic dissidents? One in support of the Iranian opposition in which not all the participants were exiled Iranians? One in defense of Egyptian Copts in which not all the participants were Coptic immigrants? One in support of the beleaguered Syrian democrats mowed down in the streets of that country?

Do those in the West who congratulate themselves on their great humanism and political heroism have any idea of what they are really doing? Do those in the West who brag about being “pro-Arab” and “pro-Muslim” and “pro-Palestinian” have any concept of how ridiculous they are, of how much damage they are doing to those they profess to love?

And aside from morality and the question of “which side are you on?” consider the practical impact. In the West, critiques of the Islamists are met by cries of “racism,” “Islamophobia,” and outright threats or just plain ignored. In the Middle East, the radical Islamists murder, wound, and intimidate. The other, moderate, side commits no violence at all. Who do you think is going to win?

Apathy is one thing; the fact that most Western intellectuals, most liberals and leftists are on the side of the oppressor is quite another.

It’s the Spanish Civil War of the twenty-first century out there. And you, my fine examples of the allegedly caring Politically Correct, are on the Fascist side.

You can’t say it better than the old labor ballad, “Which Side are You On?”:

“They say in Harlan County/There are no neutrals there/You’ll either be a union man/Or a thug for J.H. Blair….

“ Will you be a lousy scab/Or will you be a man?

“Don’t listen to their lies/Us poor folks haven’t got a chance/Unless we organize.”

Let me know if you see any evidence of that happening.Professor Barry Rubin, Director, Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center
The Rubin Report blog
He is a featured columnist at PJM
Editor, Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal
Editor Turkish Studies,

GA: Debate on "The Question of Palestine"

Statement by

Ambassador Ron Prosor, Permanent Representative of Israel to the UN

29 November 2011

Mr. President,

A great Jewish sage once wrote, “The truth can hurt like a thorn, at first; but in the end it blossoms like a rose.”

His words came to my mind today. His insight could really benefit many in this hall.

It takes a well of truth to water the seeds of peace. Yet, we continue to witness a drought of candor in this body’s discussion of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. On this historic day, real facts in the General Assembly remain few and far between.

For any who have been here on November 29th before, today is déjà vu. Some of you may have noticed that some minor changes have been taking place in the Middle East lately, but any changes in this body’s resolutions condemning Israel are very, very rare. ndeed, it didn’t take a creative writer to craft the language in these resolutions. The exact same text is copied and pasted, year after year – much of it dating back five decades.

The account we heard today is one-sided. It is unilateral. It is unjust. And it is unhelpful. It presents a distorted and impartial version of history. It transforms the cause of Palestinian self-determination into a deliberate attempt to denigrate, defame, and delegitimize the State of Israel.

The political dynamics in this body are sadly predictable. Every November, the leaves change color in New York, but the automatic anti-Israel majority never changes its votes.

Each and every responsible member of the international community that affixes its seal of approval on this exact same set of resolutions – which are irrelevant at best, and damaging at worst— should do a little soul searching. Is this the message that you want the General Assembly to send to the world?

Mr. President,

Let me take a moment to remind this Assembly about what actually occurred on this day 64 years ago – and in the days that followed.

On November 29, 1947, the United Nations voted to partition then British-Mandate Palestine into two states: one Jewish, one Arab. Two states for two peoples.

The Jewish population accepted that plan and declared a new state in its ancient homeland. It reflected the Zionist conviction that it was both necessary and possible to live in peace with our neighbors in the land of our forefathers.

The Arab inhabitants rejected the plan and launched a war of annihilation against the new Jewish state, joined by the armies of five Arab members of the United Nations.

One percent of Israel’s population died during this assault by five armies. Think about that price. It would be the equivalent of 650,000 dying in France today, or 3 million dying in the United States, or 13 million dying in China.

As a result of the war, there were Arabs who became refugees. A similar number of Jews, who lived in Arab countries, were forced to flee their homes as well. They, too, became refugees.

The difference between these two distinct populations was – and still is – that Israel absorbed the refugees into our society. Our neighbors did not.

Refugee camps in Israel gave birth to thriving towns and cities. Refugee camps in Arab Countries gave birth to more Palestinian refugees.

We unlocked our new immigrants’ vast potential. The Arab World knowingly and intentionally kept their Palestinian populations in the second class status of permanent refugees.

In Lebanon for many years and still today, the law prohibits Palestinians from owning land – and from working in the public sector or as doctors and lawyers. Palestinians are banned from these professions.

In Kuwait, the once significant Palestinian population was forcibly expelled from the country in 1991. Few remain.

In Syria, thousands of Palestinians had to flee refugee camps in Latakia last August when President Assad shelled their homes with naval gunboats.

In the vast majority of Arab Countries, Palestinians have no rights of citizenship. It is no coincidence that the Arab World’s responsibilities for the “inalienable rights” of these Palestinians never appear in the resolutions before you.

Mr. President,

The basic question underlying our conflict for 64 years has not changed. That question is: has the Arab World – and particularly the Palestinians – internalized that Israel is here to stay and will remain the Nation-state of the Jewish People?

It is still unclear whether they are inspired by the promise of building a new state, or the goal of destroying an existing one.

Two months ago, President Abbas stood at the podium in this very hall and tried to erase the unbroken and unbreakable connection between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel.

He said the following:

“I come before you today from the Holy Land, the land of Palestine, the land of divine messages, ascension of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and the birthplace of Jesus Christ (peace be upon him).”

This was not an oversight. It was not a slip of the tongue. It was yet another deliberate attempt to deny and erase more than 3,000 years of Jewish history. The Arab leaders from those two nations that sought peace have offered a different message.

For example, in 1995, King Hussein came to the United States and said (quote): “For our part, we shall continue to work for the new dawn when all the Children of Abraham and their descendants are living together in the birthplace of their three great monotheistic religions.”

In 1977, President Sadat came to Israel’s Knesset and quoted this verse from the Koran: “We believe in God and in what has been revealed to us and what was revealed to Abraham, Ismail, Isaac, Jacob, and the tribes and in the books given to Moses, Jesus, and the prophets from their lord.”

President Sadat and King Hussein spoke of THREE monotheistic religions, not ONE or TWO.

Mr. President,

The resolution that gives the 29th of November significance – General Assembly resolution 181 – speaks of the creation of a “Jewish State” no less than 25 times. We still do not hear Palestinian leaders utter the term.

The Palestinian leadership refuses to acknowledge Israel’s character as a Jewish state. You will never hear them say “two states for two peoples”. If you ever hear a Palestinian leader say “two states for two peoples”, please phone me immediately. My office has set up the equivalent of a 9/11 number in the event of such an unprecedented occurrence.

Palestinian leaders call for an independent Palestinian state, but insist that the Palestinian people return to the Jewish state. This is a proposition that no one who believes in the right of Israel to exist could ever accept.

The idea that Israel will be flooded with millions of Palestinians is a non-starter. The international community knows it. The Palestinian leadership knows it. But the Palestinian people aren’t hearing it. At this very moment, the gap between their perception and reality remains the major obstacle to peace.

Let me repeat that: the so-called right of return is and will remain the major obstacle to peace. It is not settlements. It is not the laundry list of baseless accusations launched against Israel in today’s resolutions.

I’ll repeat it again: the so-called right of return is the major obstacle to peace. Everyone knows it.

Yet, all of those who were so vocal today in telling Israel what is has to do for peace – mumbled, stuttered and conveniently lost their voices when it came to telling the Palestinians that the so-called right of return is a non-starter.

For decades, this body has rubberstamped nearly every Palestinian whim, no matter how counter-factual or counter-productive. What has this accomplished? The lip service of this body has only done a disservice for peace.

Mr. President,

True friends of the Palestinians have a responsibility to tell them the truth.

They will stop promoting the distorted version of history that characterizes this day, and start delivering the real lessons of history that the Palestinian leadership now refuses to heed.

These lessons are clear: bilateral negotiations are the only route to two states, for two peoples – living side-by-side in peace and security; negotiations that resolve the outstanding concerns of both sides.

While bypass maneuvers may work for heart surgery and highway construction, they will not bring peace or security to our region.

Direct negotiations were the way of President Sadat and Prime Minister Begin, the way of Prime Minister Rabin and King Hussein. It has been the framework for advancing peace between Israel and the Palestinians for the past two decades.

Time and again, we have extended our hand in peace to the Palestinians. Prime Minister Netanyahu stood in this very hall last September and declared his commitment to the cause of Palestinian self-determination – and his vision for establishing a Palestinian state, alongside the Jewish State of Israel – two states for two peoples.

Yet, today we wait for the Palestinians to give up the false idol of unilateralism – and get back to the real hard work of direct negotiations. And – as they continue to run away from the negotiating table, the Palestinian leadership continues to move closer into their embrace of Hamas – an internationally recognized terrorist organization dedicated to the destruction of Israel.

This development brings to my mind Groucho Marx’s famous line: "Those are my principles, and if you don't like them … well, I have others." The Quartet has long applied three principles that Hamas must adopt. It must renounce violence, recognize Israel and abide by prior agreements. At no point has Hamas satisfied these conditions – or indicated any intention to do so.

Those who advocate recognizing a Government that includes Hamas are urging a Groucho-Marxist policy in a complex, unstable region. If Hamas is too extreme to accept these principles, they argue, we must tailor our principles to match Hamas's extremism.

The bar has been set very low. On these basic requirements for peace, there can be no adjustments. There can be no bargaining. There can be no Holiday Season discounts – in this hall or anywhere else.

Mr. President,

Even more than the words spoken in the speeches here today – or the words in the resolutions before you— it is the words not spoken that speak volumes. This Assembly has made clear that it does not stand in solidarity with many people in our region today.

In this hall, I hear no solidarity with the one million Israeli men, women and children who live under the constant rain rockets, mortars and missiles from the Gaza Strip.

I hear no solidarity with the 16-year old boy who was killed last April when a Hamas anti-Tank Missile struck his school bus. Or the thousands of other Israeli civilians who have been killed and injured.

I hear no solidarity with the Israeli children who learn the alphabet at the same time that they learn the names Kassam, Grad, and Katyusha – the rockets that keep them out of school for weeks at a time.

I hear no solidarity with the Palestinians who are victims of brutal Hamas rule – with the political opponents who are tortured, the women who are subjugated, or the children who are used as suicide bombers and human shields.

And – Mr. President, today I hear no solidarity with the many people in the Middle East who are being repressed and slaughtered every single day for demanding their freedom. From Syria to Iran to Yemen, these people are no longer content with their leader’s explanations that Israel is to blame for all the problems of the Middle East – a fiction that is advanced through resolutions like those before us today.

Today the People of the Middle East demand real answers for their plight.

I also heard no discussion today about the incitement that continues to fill the West Bank and Gaza, where the next generation of Palestinian children is being taught that suicide bombers are heroes, that Jews have no connection to the Holy Land, and that they must seek to annihilate the State of Israel.

From cradles to kindergarten classrooms; from the grounds of summer camps to the stands of football stadiums; from the names of public squares to the public pronouncements of Palestinian leaders, these messages are everywhere.

Just last month, President Abbas declared that the Palestinian Authority would provide a grant of up to $5,000 to every terrorist released in exchange for Gilad Shalit, Israel’s kidnapped soldier.

These are people like Ibrahim Shammasina, who helped to murder four Israelis, including two teenagers. People like Walid Anajas, who planned bombings in the heart of Jerusalem and Rishon Lezion, which killed 32.

People like Wafa-al Bis, who unsuccessfully tried to blow herself up in an Israeli hospital.

Washed in the blood of innocents, these terrorists are being held up as role models for the next generation of Palestinian children.

Palestinian Authority television broadcast President Abbas’ remarks to these released terrorists last October. He said, “You are people of struggle and Jihad fighters for Allah and the homeland... Your sacrifice and your effort and your actions were not in vain.”

Mr. President,

Sustainable peace must take root in homes, schools, and media that teach tolerance and understanding so that it can grow in hearts and minds.

It must come from a Palestinian leadership willing to tell its people about the difficult compromises that they will have to make for statehood.

It will come through the hard work of state-building, not the old habit of state-bashing.

Today none of these truths have been spoken.

Today I hear no solidarity with the principles of peace.

I know that the truth can be a burden. I know that old habits die-hard. I know that the convenience of the moment sometimes weighs heavy on the interests of the future.

Yet, only the truth will set us free. After years of darkness, I call on this Assembly to bring new light to this debate.

I call on each and every delegate in this hall to embrace pragmatic solutions, not automatic resolutions; to speak with candor, and not slander; to grapple for a new vision, and not old divisions.

I call on this Assembly to finally glean truth from this historic day, nourishing the seeds of peace in our region that can blossom into a brighter future.
Thank you, Mr. President

Who will take over in Syria?

Ted Belman

The best outcome for the conflict in Syria is for the Sunnis and the Kurds to be victorious in Syria. But they must do so aligned with Saudi Arabia and Israel. My recent article The Kurds and the Sunnis must be united to stop Iran from taking over in Iraq and al Qaeda in Syria spells it out and my argument was buttressed here.

Herb London reported a few days ago, U.S. Betrays Syria’s Opposition

In an effort to understand and placate Syrian opposition groups, Secretary Clinton invited them to a meeting in Washington. Most of those invited, however, have links to the Muslim Brotherhood. Missing from the invitations are Kurdish leaders, Sunni liberals, Assyrians and Christian spokesmen. According to various reports the State Department made a deal with Turkey and Muslim Brotherhood representatives either to share power with Assad to stabilize the government, or replace him if this effort fails.One organization, the Syrian Democracy Council (SDC), an opposition group composed of diverse ethnic and religious organizations, including Alawis, Aramaic Christians, Druze and Assyrians was conspicuously — and no coincidentally — omitted from the invitation list.

Le Smith reports in Split Ends that the Obama policy is not doing too well. Thank goodness. A key reason it has failed isn’t for lack of ability to project power, but rather because it has become distracted by the fractured nature of the opposition—over what comes after Assad—rather than focusing on the far more manageable pursuit of bringing down a long-time U.S. adversary.

Smith goes into great detail about the growth of the various factions. What concerns the US is the need to avoid or prevent the same kind of civil strife that occurred in Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein. Good luck with that. The countries are similar except that the Shiites in Iraq constituted about 60% of the population with the rest divided between Kurds and Sunnis whereas in Syria the Shiites/Alawites constitute only 20% of the population, the Kurds about 15% and the Sunnis most of the rest allowing for sizable minorities of Druze and Christians.

Obama wants to take control of Syria through Turkey and the MB. It is far preferable for Saudi Arabia and Israel to take control through the Kurds and Sunnis who hostile to the Islamists. Such an outcome would certainly strengthen the Kurds and the Sunnis in Iraq thereby reducing the power of the Shiites/Iran in Iraq.

Itamar Rabinovich, (Itamar Rabinovich has served as Israel’s chief negotiator with Syria and as Israel’s ambassador in Washington. His books include “The View from Damascus.” ) in the NYT writes about The Devil We Knew

Turkey is worried by the repercussions of instability and potential chaos in Syria for its own stability, particularly in the Kurdish context. It also feels uncomfortable with the role played by Iran so close to its southern border.

Turkey’s original policy of “zero conflicts” included an attempt to improve relations with Iran. But there could never be a comfortable relationship between a large Sunni state and a large Shiite state both vying for regional hegemony. With Iran seeking influence in Iraq and acting against Turkey’s policy and interests in Syria, an implicit rivalry is coming to the surface.

The other effort is Saudi Arabia’s. Several developments have combined to alter the kingdom’s role from a reluctant wielder of discreet influence to that of a manifest, more aggressive regional power: Egypt’s current weakness; American reticence; and the threats presented by the Arab Spring.

The Saudis intervened forcefully in Bahrain, are active in Yemen and are shoring up King Abdullah in Jordan.

But for several months they were passive with regard to Syria. Like other states in the region — and like the United States and Europe — they were unhappy with Bashar al-Assad, but essentially subscribed to a policy of “the devil we know.” Bad as Assad’s brutality was, it seemed preferable to the dangers of anarchy, possible fragmentation and an uncertain future, given the fact that the Syrian opposition is largely an unknown.

More recently, however, Saudi Arabia came to the conclusion that defeating Iran on the Syrian stage is the dominant consideration. This conclusion is shared by other Arab states, which explains the shift in the Arab League’s position and the extraordinary steps it has taken against the Assad regime.

It is also a prime example of how “soft power” can be used by countries, like Saudi Arabia and Qatar, that may not be a military match for Tehran.

The roles played by Turkey and the Arab League are also a byproduct of the modest role played by the United States.

In the Libyan crisis, President Obama sought to “lead from behind.” In the Syrian crisis, Washington does not lead at all. Yes, the American ambassador, Robert Ford, played a courageous role; the administration imposed some sanctions, and has used strong words to denounce Assad. But Washington does not have a coherent policy, and seems content to have regional powers in the driver’s seat in this crisis.

Israel, it appears , no longer prefers the devil she knew.

Israel is passive as well. In 2005, when George W. Bush wanted to topple Bashar al-Assad, then-prime minister Ariel Sharon cautioned against doing so, using the “devil we know” argument. Assad was Iran’s close ally and Lebanon’s oppressor, a patron of Hamas and an anti-American actor in Iraq, but the alternative to his rule, according to the conventional wisdom at the time, was the Muslim Brotherhood.

This is not Israel’s policy now. After the discovery of Assad’s secret cooperation with North Korea, and given the threats to its national security by Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza, Israel came to the conclusion that there is more potential damage in Assad’s survival than in his departure.

Deeply preoccupied with the Iranian threat, Israel is of the opinion that extracting the Syrian brick from the Iranian wall could usher in a new phase in regional politics. Clearly both Hamas and Hezbollah are treading more softly now.

For sure, I am not in agreement with his conclusion. What else do you expect from the NYT,

There seems to be no real prospect of external military intervention in Syria. But the policies of external actors will have a major impact on the position of the Syrian army and on the middle classes of Damascus and Aleppo that so far have been sitting on the fence.

The United States, France and other powers that traditionally played an important role in the Levant do not need to resort to military action. They have a full arsenal of diplomatic and economic assets that could tilt the current conflict in Syria, put an end to brutal suppression and bloodshed, and help the Arab Spring register another achievement.

Can you believe that last bit?

Neither Saudi Arabia nor Israel is happy with the Islamists taking over. Hopefully they will take my advice :) ) and support a take over by Kurds and Sunnis loyal to S Arabia.

No one wants to talk about "Arab Spring" antisemitism

Jihad Watch

And everyone wants to pretend the imposition of Sharia that is following each revolution won't be a problem, and could even be an improvement. After all, there's promise after promise of "moderate" Islamic governance. One consistent trait that betrays the outwardly friendly face of the revolutions is the antisemitic rhetoric that has accompanied them. "Praise Arab Spring, Except for Anti-Semitism," by Jeffrey Goldberg for Bloomberg, November 29:

The bravery of the youth of Tunisia, Egypt, Syria and Libya can’t be denied. It isn’t pepper spray that they’ve been facing. Nor can the idealism of the Arab Spring be denied. The people of the Middle East are finally awakening to the promise of liberty. A democracy is only as good as the values that inform its participants. That determines what they will use their new-found "liberty" for, including the possibility of trading one form of tyranny for another.

There is another truth, however, that shouldn’t be denied. The desire of Arabs to be free of their spiteful and pitiless dictators is sometimes expressed in grotesquely anti-Jewish terms.

On the surface this makes no sense: Arabs are rising up against Arabs, so what does this have to do with the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion”? There has been a tendency in the Middle East to blame the general wretchedness of life on the hidden and malevolent hand of Israel, or more generally -- and more prejudicially -- on “the Jews,” but the Arab Spring’s approach at first seemed radically different. Tunisians, Egyptians, Syrians and Libyans were engaged in demonstrations against the actual causes of their day-to-day misery, rather than against Israel. In Tahrir Square, in the early days of the revolution, Israel seemed an afterthought.

It was always there.

But now in Cairo, and across the Arab Middle East, Israel and the Jews are serving once again as universal boogeymen. Once dictators used anti-Semitism to divert their citizens’ attention away from their own problems. Now expressions of the most ridiculous conspiracy theories seem to rise up organically.

This truth doesn’t conform to the generally accepted narrative of the Arab Spring, but ignoring it won’t make it disappear.

‘No Place’

Libya provides an interesting example. Its late, unlamented dictator, Muammar Qaddafi, was a terrible anti-Semite, and often argued for the elimination of Israel. At the beginning of his reign, he expelled several thousand Jews (members of a community that predated the Muslim conquest of Libya by hundreds of years). His regime confiscated Jewish property, converted synagogues into mosques and razed Jewish cemeteries. And yet some of the revolutionaries who overthrew him fomented the charge that he was at least part-Jewish, and that his regime operated on behalf of Zionism.

When a Libyan Jew in exile returned to Tripoli earlier this year, he was nearly lynched by a mob that surrounded the shuttered synagogue he was hoping to restore. “There is no place for Jews in Libya,” read demonstrators’ signs. In the Forward, Andrew Engel, who recently visited Libya and discovered endemic anti-Semitism there, described one popular rap song that went, “The anger won’t die, the one who will die is Qaddafi, his supporters and the Jews.”

The Syrian ruler, Bashar al-Assad, is also utterly hostile to Israel and to Jews. He supports Hezbollah and Hamas, each of which seeks the physical elimination of the Jewish people. And yet the Syrian opposition finds it beneficial to spread the lie that Assad is a Jewish agent.

According to a translation posted by the Middle East Media Research Institute, the Syrian writer Osama Al-Malouhi wrote recently on an opposition website that Jews “want that sucker of Syrian blood to remain and continue to prey and suck blood. They not only want their security, but also to enjoy the sight of Syrian blood being spilled.” He went on, “Asking myself why Jewish support of Bashar increased after they saw rivers of Syrian blood this mass-murderer spilled in Syrian towns, an old image leapt to my mind, of Jews bleeding people and using their blood to prepare matzas. Logic does not accept this, but the facts prove it.”

Even in Tunisia, which is commonly thought of as the most moderate of Arab states, the leader of the powerful and putatively reasonable Islamist party, Ennahdha, recently stated that he brings “glad tidings that the Arab region will get rid of the germ of Israel,” according to the Middle East scholar Martin Kramer.

‘Betray, Conspire, Extort’

Cairo is rife with anti-Semitism. On my last visit, I met with leaders of ostensibly liberal parties who were convinced Jews were conspiring to bring about the collapse of the Egyptian economy (something that Egypt’s military rulers are accomplishing all by themselves). One suggested to me that George Soros, Benjamin Netanyahu and a certain “Dr. Rothschild” were working jointly to buy the Suez Canal from Egypt.

A BBC journalist named Thomas Dinham recently wrote of his own encounter with anti-Semitism in Cairo. Dinham, who is neither Israeli nor Jewish, told of one potentially dangerous confrontation: “Someone pushed me from behind with such force that I nearly fell over. Turning around, I found myself surrounded by five men, one of whom tried to punch me in the face. I stopped the attack by pointing out how shameful it was for a Muslim to assault a guest in his country, especially during Ramadan.” He went on, “I was appalled by the apology offered by one of my assailants. ‘Sorry,’ he said contritely, offering his hand, ‘we thought you were a Jew.’”

Expressions of anti-Semitism are common even at the higher reaches of Egyptian politics. Presidential candidate Tawfiq Okasha, speaking on the television station he owns, recently said, “Not all the Jews in the world are evil. You may ask: Tawfiq, what is the ratio? The ratio is 60-40. Sixty percent are evil to varying degrees, all the way to a level that words cannot describe, while 40 percent are not evil.” He noted that French President Nicolas Sarkozy is “one of those Jews who adhere to the Zionist ideology, which is one of the worst ideologies.”

Okasha did concede that, while even among the 40 percent of non-evil Jews there is only one in a million who is blameless, it is possible to “coexist” with this sort of Jew because they “do not betray, conspire, extort or view others as Gentiles.”

In Cairo today, this might count as a progressive idea.
The Arab Spring should liberate people not only from oppressive rulers, but also from self-destructive and delusional patterns of belief. Anti-Semitism, the “socialism of fools,” not only threatens the Israel-Egypt peace treaty and dehumanizes Jews. It also undermines rationality. It prevents its adherents from seeing the world as it is -- and it will only be an impediment to actual change in the Arab world.

(Jeffrey Goldberg is a Bloomberg View columnist and a national correspondent for the Atlantic. The opinions expressed are his own.)

To contact the writer of this article: Jeffrey Goldberg at