Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Middle East Sampler 1/31/12: New York Times vs. Moderate Muslims?

From DG:
1) Will Israel be illegal in Iraq?

A new bill before the Iraqi parliament would make travel to Israel illegal (via memeorandum):
The bill was proposed following a number of incidents at the Bagdad airport. A local security officer working there said the passport had caught a number of Iraqi officials carrying passports with Israeli entry visas. The officer, speaking on a condition of anonymity, reported that the passports of some nine high-profile Iraqi politicians were clearly marked with Ben-Gurion Airport stamps as well.
According to the source, the politicians made their first trips to Israel after the Iraqi elections, held on January 2010, until around October that same year. The officer claimed that during questioning of the Iraqis, it was discovered that they were operating as envoys to Israel on behalf of Iraqi politicians.
For all of the concern about reform in the Arab world, the one issue that is ignored is the Arab view of Israel. One of the surest signs that a society was opening up would be the acceptance of Israel. This is something we have not seen at all during the "Arab spring."

Will those who ask whether Americans should be risking lives for Israel, now ask if risking American lives for another antisemitic Middle Eastern government was worth it? Will those who decry the supposed antidemocratic direction that Israel's Knesset is taking object to this law?

Shortly after Saddam fell, an Iraqi baby was sent to Israel for an operation under the auspices of Save a Child's Heart. Apparently the Iraqi government would like to prevent any further such life saving operations. One former parliamentarian would have objected is Mithal al-Alusi, who advocated for closer ties with Israel. His advocacy for true liberalism cost him his two sons.

2) Caring for CAIR

The recent revelation that the New York Police Department showed The Third Jihad to its officers has become a minor scandal. The New York Times is in high dudgeon condemning theHateful film.
There is absolutely no excuse for the New York Police Department’s decision to show a hate-filled film about Muslims to more than 1,400 city police officers. 
I have seen The Third Jihad and it's hard to see what's objectionable about it, unless one is associated with CAIR or similar organizations, which are implicated by the film for having an agenda that is more radical than what they usually acknowledge.

The New York Times is not the least bit concerned about CAIR. Last year it was announced that the FBI was cutting its ties with CAIR. An Oklahoma TV station reported:
"There has been nothing that has connected CAIR to anything illegal. If there was anything found to be illegal they would have been prosecuted," said Awad. 
But Ghassan Elashi, a former volunteer at CAIR's Texas-based chapter, is serving 65 years in prison after a federal court found he funneled nearly $12 million to the terrorist group Hamas. The court case also named CAIR as an unidentified co-conspirator. 
That is a big part of the reason the FBI said they have cut ties to CAIR. The group said the decision has had a negative impact on their efforts to sway public opinion.
About the same time, Rep. Peter King was holding a series of hearings on the radicalization of elements of the American Muslim community. Here's how the New York Times REPORTED about CAIR:
Mr. Awad said Thursday’s hearing, called by Mr. King, was “political theater” intended to score points, not to elucidate facts. “No one is more concerned about terrorism in the United States than we are,” Mr. Awad said. This is in part because Muslim Americans face a backlash every time a Muslim is accused of plotting or carrying out terrorism in the United States. 
“We have nothing to do with radicalizing young men,” he said. 
Indeed, some of the statements about CAIR at the hearing were oversimplified at best. Mr. King noted, for example, that CAIR was listed as an “unindicted co-conspirator or joint venturer” in a terrorism financing case against a charity, the Holy Land Foundation — but so were more than 200 other groups and individuals. CAIR was not accused of a crime.
No doubt if 200 members of Nixon administration were found to have been unindicted co-conspirators in Watergate, the New York Times would have cited that as proof that Nixon did nothing wrong.

The New York Times would never portray someone in a hateful manner, even if they disagreed with him. Would it? (h/t Ed Lasky)

Abigail Esman responds (h/t Oren Kessler):
In fact, in an editorial, the Times, sounding appalled, says “the film shows some of the grisliest terrorist attacks in recent years and argues that the real agenda for Islamists in America is to infiltrate and dominate the country.” 
Yet interestingly, that’s what many Muslims say, too — Muslims who are not extremists, Muslims who are integrated into Western life, Muslims who are at much at risk of death and destruction from these same Islamist leaders – and, indeed, the Muslim who narrated “The Third Jihad,” Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser. Would the Times then argue that they are “self-hating Muslims” for wanting these fanatics exposed? Should we ignore the fact that pious Muslims — like Zuhdi Jasser — are regularly targeted by these Islamists for assassination? Or do they not recognize the difference between Islam and Islamism? Do they think all Muslims are Islamists? 
I have news for them: They aren’t. And the Times should apologize to the entire American Muslim community for suggesting otherwise.
3) Time for more confidence building measures and pressure on Israel 
Con Coughlin writes (h/t Daily Alert):
For example, I am told by a Western diplomat working for the Quartet that when the Israeli delegation arrived for a meeting last weekend in Amman, the Jordanian capital, to present their latest security proposals, Mr Erekat simply refused to enter the room. 
My man in the Jordan conference room says that he was surprised at Mr Erekat's behaviour, especially as the topic under discussion was supposed to be one of the two main topics the Palestinian delegation wanted on the agenda for the Jordan talks, which are a precursor for the more formal talks that are supposed to take place once both sides have agreed a negotiating framework. 
Mr Erekat's refusal to enter the negotiating room and hear what the Israelis had to say does not bode well for the Quartet's attempts to get the two sides to resume full negotiations, and raises questions about just how serious the Palestinians are about getting a peace deal. With Israel feeling increasingly isolated as world attention focuses on the fall-out from the recent revolts in Libya, Egypt and Syria, there is a growing suspicion among Western diplomats that the Palestinians are working on the basis that, if they draw out the process, they will be able to strike a better deal with Israel.
If you recall, the New York Times provided a pretext for Erakat's refusal to negotiate, rather than portraying him as unreasonable. I'd disagree here in that I don't believe that the Palestinians are holding out for a better deal, they simply don't want a deal.
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