Monday, February 28, 2011

Barry Rubin: Egypt's Revolution and Israeli Interests: A Strategic Assessment

This post was written by Barry Rubin and is reposted here with his permission.

By Barry Rubin

What does the Egyptian revolution mean for Israel? A great deal and, unfortunately, none of it is particularly good, though Israel will have to adjust to these new circumstances.

People who don’t know very much predict some great chance for peace in a rosy democratic dawn. I've even heard moderate Egyptians claim that the only reason people there hated Israel was because it was associated in their minds with the Mubarak regime and now there's no reason for friction. But this kind of argument has nothing to do with reality.

The implications for Israel should be divided into two categories: those that relate to Egypt directly and those arising from the event’s fall-out on the regional situation.

Anne Bayefsky: Obama, Hillary Working Hard to Prop Up Human Rights Demons at the United Nations

For Immediate Release:
February 28, 2011
Contact: Anne Bayefsky
(917) 488-1558

Why are President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton working
so hard to rescue the U.N. Human Rights Council?

Click here to see the article by Anne Bayefsky today on Fox News.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration are on an urgent rescue mission – for the United Nations Human Rights Council. Clinton is not in Geneva today to do something about human rights. She is in Geneva to protect the administration’s investment in the U.N. human rights organization’s top body, which only six months ago welcomed Libya as a full member and only three months ago passed it through its meaningless “universal periodic review” process, touted as its number one monitoring procedure.

If Libya Falls, Will That Make It Easier To Topple Iran Next?

OK, everyone smile and say "Libya", guys?

Challah Hu Akbar quotes Michael Rubin, who offers this piece of hopeful analysis on why Iran is next:
Qaddafi’s exile or death will be the last nail in the coffin of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Egyptians thought, “If Tunisians can do it, why not us.” When Mubarak fled, Libyans concluded that it was their turn. If people power can topple Qaddafi, not even the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps will be able to contain the rage of the Iranian people. And if the Islamic Republic collapses, then suddenly the threats from Hezbollah, Hamas, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad will decline as their state support evaporates.

IsraeliGirl: Hamas - From Iranian Rockets to Holocaust Denial and Sharia Law

The following post from IsraeliGirl is reposted here with permission.

Hamas has been quite busy lately.

Last week, after 2 years of relative calm, a long range Grad rocket exploded in Beer Sheva. The rocket landed in a courtyard near a villa at about 8.45 p.m., causing extensive damage to homes in the area but luckily no casualties.

Iran has supplied Hamas with such long range rockets.

Arlene Kushner On Another Attempt At Negotiations--By The Quartet

The following is from Arlene Kushner's From Israel series, and is reposted here with permission
February 28, 2011

"Standing Tough"

The international community is forging ahead with those plans to advance "peace negotiations": Later this week, Quartet representatives hope to meet separately with Israeli and Palestinian Arab officials, in Brussels. The goal of these meetings is said to be determination of the position of each side with regard to core issues. Then it is hoped that agreement can be reached on how to resume negotiations.

According to an article in Haaretz, Prime Minister Netanyahu is still debating about whether to send his chief negotiator Yitzhak Molcho to this meeting.

His concern is that of being unduly pressured by the international community to restart negotiations based on the '67 armistice line (erroneously referred to as a border). A Quartet summit is scheduled for two weeks from now in Paris, and he is worried about an official statement coming from that meeting.

Zenga-Zenga Now Has An Edited Version That You Can Show Your Muslim Mother

So just how popular has the YouTube video become?

Popular enough that Noy Alooshe, who created the video has put out an edited version without the dancing girls--at the request of Muslims who want to be able to show the video to their parents:

If They're Such Moderates, Why Was The Muslim Brotherhood Such Big Fans Of The Nazis--After WWII?

Following their defeat in WWII, Nazis--and Nazism--was discredited.
By everyone, that is, except the Arabs in general, and the Moslem Brotherhood in particular.

The Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism recently came out with a special issue of Antisemitism International, an annual research journal. In one of the articles, Broadcasting Antisemitism To The Arab World: Nazi Propaganda During the Holocaust, Professor Jeffrey Herf describes the meeting of the minds between the Nazis and the Muslim world:
The result of that conjuncture was the production of thousands of hours of Arabic radio broadcasts and hundreds of thousands Arabic leaflets and pamphlets that translated and diffused Nazism's radical antisemitism into an easily understandable political discourse adapted to the political realities of local circumstances in the Middle East.

You Want A Real "Cycle Of Violence"? Check Out Muslim History!

I wrote last week that historically, violence in the Middle East is a Muslim issue, independent of Israel.

 In The Strong Horse, Lee Smith describes this perpetual "cycle of violence" in the Muslim world:
But in the context of Middle Eastern history, what we have come to call radical Islam is actually not so very radical. Political violence and coercion, as [Rashid] Rida noted, had been the norm for over thirteen hundred years of Muslim history. They were also standard practice in modern Arab politics.

...It is said that those who live by the sword must die by it as well, a tautology in a society where political power can only be won through violence. This "cycle of violence" in the Middle East is thousands of years old, the defining characteristic of a political order that Ibn Khaldun described almost eight hundred years ago.

Barry Rubin: Egypt's Future Starts Coming Into Focus: There's Good News and Bad News

This post was written by Barry Rubin and is reposted here with his permission.

By Barry Rubin

“All that [glitters] is not gold;
Often have you heard that told...
Gilded tombs do worms enfold….
--William Shakespeare, “Merchant of Venice”

Is this the long-awaited Arab Spring of Democracy or is it a stealth Islamist revolution? Every country is different and most governments other than Egypt and Tunisia, possibly Bahrain, Yemen, and Libya, will survive. One should not assume the results will be the blessings of democracy or the sufferings of an even worse dictatorship. Facts, not assumptions, should produce conclusions.

There are, however, serious reasons to worry about Egypt. The two leading contenders for president so far are Muhammad ElBaradei and Amr Moussa. It is an interesting exercise to figure out who would be worse. ElBaradei is an inexperienced politician dependent on Muslim Brotherhood support. Moussa is a mercurial, irresponsible radical Arab nationalist known for demagoguery.

And so while ElBaradei would probably run a government characterized by growing Islamism at home and support for Hamas, attacking Israel, and subverting Jordan abroad; Moussa would probably head a government using an economically ruinous nationalist populism at home and support for Syria, attacking Israel, and subverting Jordan and Saudi Arabia abroad.

Neither would be particularly friendly to the United States and Western interests, though keeping American aid might make them somewhat cautious. Unless a strong moderate, liberal democratic or a conservative status quo oriented candidate appears, Egypt and the world will be stuck with one of those two choices.

While it is too early to figure out what is going to happen, we are now at the point where it is possible to make an educated guess. So here it is: there’s good news and there’s bad news.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

NGO Monitor: HRW's Sarah Leah Whitson Must Resign Over Libya Cover-up

February 27, 2011
For Immediate Release
Jason Edelstein
NGO Monitor

NGO Monitor: HRW's Sarah Leah Whitson Must Resign Over Libya Cover-up
MidEast Division Director Misled Public about Libyan Regime and Qaddafi's Son

JERUSALEM - Following Human Rights Watch's (HRW) neglect of brutal human rights violations in Libya and false claims and cover-ups about prospects for reforms there, NGO Monitor today called for the immediate resignation of Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW's director of its Middle East and North Africa (MENA) division. HRW's MENA division failed to devote the necessary resources to speaking out against human rights violations by oppressive Middle East regimes, including Saudi Arabia, Hamas, Lebanon, and most notably, Libya. Recent statements by Whitson regarding Seif Islam, a son of Moammar Qaddafi, demonstrate that she consistently whitewashed the reality in Libya and further embarrassed her organization.

Video: Iran And Gender Apartheid

We've already seen how many in Libya had to die before the UN and the West said anything--what will it take for them to take notice of the abuse of women in Iran?

For example, stoning women in Iran has a long and documented history--but don't think that the UN will speak out.

Barry Rubin: Persecution of Christians Begins in "Democratic" Egypt

This post was written by Barry Rubin and is reposted here with his permission.

By Barry Rubin

Once the revolution began, Egypt’s Christians knew precisely what to expect. It isn’t that the regime of Husni Mubarak protected them so well from Muslim wrath. On the contrary, it was reluctant to prosecute Muslims who attacked and killed or wounded Christians as well as damaged or destroyed churches. The government often arrested Christians who defended themselves. But at least the regime’s power restrained anarchy, caught terrorists, and kept the Islamists at bay.

Now all that has changed.

Arlene Kushener: Insights From Bernard Lewis

The following is from Arlene Kushner's From Israel series, and is reposted here with permission
February 27, 2011


Bernard Lewis, dean of Islamic scholars, is something of a favorite of mine. At 94 he's still offering sharp analyses from an historical perspective -- with a tad of humor thrown in from time to time.

On Friday, JPost editor David Horovitz ran an interview with Lewis, and I would like to share some of what he said:

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Barry Rubin: J'Accuse: The New York Times Promotes Muslim Brotherhood Lies, Covering Up For Nazi Collaborators

This post was written by Barry Rubin and is reposted here with his permission.

By Barry Rubin

Recently, Tariq Ramadan, considered by the Western intelligentsia to be the very epitome of enlightened Islamism, wrote a New York Times op-ed in which he was not only allowed--among other total lies--to deny that the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and his grandfather, who then led the group, were Nazi collaborators before, during, and even after World War Two. In fact, he dares claim--because he knows the mainstream media will not expose this lie--that the Muslim Brotherhood was an anti-fascist organization!

Video: Report On Book Abraham's DNA--About Jews And Genes

Here is a report from JLTV about  the book Abraham's DNA: Race, Identity and the DNA of the Chosen People, written by Jon Entine. While Publishers Weekly has some criticisms of the book itself, that shouldn't stop you from watching this video:

Friday, February 25, 2011

Barry Rubin: Egypt's Revolution: The More They Reassure Us, The More We Worry

This post was written by Barry Rubin and is reposted here with his permission.

By Barry Rubin

I think I was the first person to warn that the Egyptian revolution wasn't all roses but also had a dangerous amount of thorns. And the more Western governments and media reassure us, the more we worry. Why? Because it shows they have no idea what they are facing and no idea of what they are doing.

You Want To Know The Real Key To Middle East Peace? Get The Muslims To Stop Killing Each Other

Danny Ayalon, Israel‘s deputy minister of foreign affairs, writes about the fallacy of the linkage between Israel-Palestinian peace and peace in the Middle East:
...the linkage argument has allowed a dereliction of responsibility for anything that happens outside of Israel‘s few square kilometers, which is equivalent to less than one seven-hundredth of the Arab world. Even the term “Middle East conflict” is negligent in that it stresses the singularity and uniqueness of our conflict, perhaps even one of the least bloody and destructive, in a region that has seen dozens of recent and ongoing conflicts.
That is not to say that there is no linkage to be made--on the contrary, there is a very direct linkage to the violence in the Middle East.

Video: Latma Brings You The Arab Democracy Band, And The UN Saves The World

Some very clever stuff--check it out below:

Instead Of Running To The UN To Condemn Libya, Obama Would Be Better Off Copying China

Jennifer Rubin writes that on Thursday she asked State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley what the US was going to do about the protesters being killed in Libya--beyond going to the UN Human Rights Council. She got an answer:
He responded by e-mail, "It is not all we are doing. It happens to be first. More will emerge." When I asked when those other steps might "emerge," he answered at 7:24 p.m. "within 24 hours."
So, what can we expect Obama to announce by 7:30pm this evening? One option that has been suggested it creating a no-fly zone over Libya to prevent Libyan planes under Kaddafi's control from firing upon unarmed civilians.

But Rubin quotes from Elliot Abrams blog, where he describes how China is making it clear to Kaddafi that they expect him to keep Chinese citizens there safe:

How Those Shooting Protesters In The Middle East Be Could Tried In US Courts

There was a story last year about a ruling in an Israeli court that would make it legal to serve papers on representatives of terrorist groups--thus avoiding having to serve papers on the terrorist groups themselves.

But it was the logic behind the ruling that was interesting:

Putin Is As Bad At Handling Iran As Obama--Maybe Even Worse

Lt. Colonel James Zumwalt, USMC (ret) writes about Russian Prime Minister Putin, whose reputation of being tough on terrorism took a hit following the 2010 terrorist bombing of a Moscow subway that killed 40. While Putin did promise retribution, he did not come right out and say that Islamists were behind the attack:
Putin’s reluctance to accuse the Islamists was most likely tied to his need to ease the Russian people into the realization he has fed them false hope. In 2006, when Putin was president, Russia’s secret police killed Islamist leader Shamil Basayev. Putin proclaimed the Islamic insurgency had been defeated and a thousand year era of peace had begun. But in 2007, an Islamist group called Caucasus Emirate—seeking to bring Islamic law to North Caucasus, which includes Chechnya—was formed. Last February, the terrorist group’s leader announced Russian cities would be included within their “zone of military operations.” Thus, it would appear Putin must now hit his own “reset” button concerning his assessment on Islamist terrorism.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Jonathan Rosenblum: Rabbi Zechariah Fendel, zt"l, a Quintessential Mashpia

Though I have a number of his seforim, I never knew anything of Rabbi Zechariah Fendel's, zt"l background, until now.

by Jonathan Rosenblum
Mishpacha Magazine
February 23, 2011

Not many of us will ever be described as "passionate in our love of Hashem, His Torah, and His people," or as a "pure, fiery soul, without any trace of self-interest" in our Divine service. But we all sense when we are in the presence of such a person and are uplifted and transformed by the connection. Rabbi Zechariah Fendel, zt"l, was such a pure soul, and he left an indelible imprint through his teaching and seforim on thousands of Jewish lives.

BBC: Why Whitewash Hamas When You Can Just Blame It All On Israel

In a new report, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) said 161 Palestinians, of whom 41 were civilians, were killed during fighting between June 7 and June 14 in which Hamas Islamists took control of the territory from secular Fatah.

"The two sides perpetrated grave breaches of the provisions of international law concerning internal armed conflicts, including extra-judicial and wilful killings and shooting at combatants and civilians after capturing them," the PCHR said.
Reuters, "Hamas and Fatah killed innocents in Gaza war-report" October 9, 2007

At least the BBC does not blame the Hamas violations of international law Israel (at least not in so many words)--it just ignores them altogether. Still, this deliberate manipulation is not to be believed as the BBC blames everything that is wrong with Hamas on Israel:

With All The Turmoil In The Middle East, Could Abbas Be Next?

"After Egypt and Tunisia, God knows who might be next...Don't laugh. It might be me"
Abbas in a speech in Ramallah last week

Abbas misrule in the West Bank could make him a target for revolt:

The New York Times: Don't Worry, Israel--You And The New Arab Generation Share Many Of The Same Values!

I received the following email from DG:
Steve Erlanger writes at the New York Times that Upheaval Jolts Israel and Raises New Worry:
Israelis worry that Arab democracy movements will ultimately be dominated by extremists, as happened in Iran after the 1979 revolution that ousted the shah. They worry about the chaotic transition between revolt and democratic stability, if it ever comes. They see Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, even if it remains a minority of Egyptian opinion, as pressing for more solidarity with the Palestinians and Hamas, the Palestinian branch of the Brotherhood. And they fear that Israel’s regional partners in checking Iran are under threat or falling.
This is mostly fair. To some degree it makes Israel look selfish (why should our neighbors have freedom if we're at risk?) but nothing too egregious. (The reporter Steven Erlanger was the Jerusalem Bureau Chief preceeding Ethan Bronner. Erlanger was awful and Bronner, despite his flaws, is a step up.)

I can't hold Erlanger responsible for not knowing about yesterday's Grad attack on Be'er Sheva because it appears that this story went up beforehand.

However the problem of the above paragraph, is that except for the reference to Iran (which is mitigated by the reference to the Muslim Brotherhood representing a "minority), there's nothing concrete about Israeli fears. But yesterday's Grad attack demonstrated that those fears are concrete, not abstractions:

Middle East Revolutions And Their Affect On The War On Terror

Benny Morris is the first I've seen to address how the current turmoil in the Middle East is going to affect the war on terror. He writes that the two components that will most directly interfere with the war on terror is Iran's ascendance and the increase in anti-Western feelings:
The regimes that have already collapsed, and will either collapse in the near future, or will suffer a large measure of curtailment of their power, are those of Lebanon, Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Jordan and the Gulf states. (people tend to forget that Lebanon, not Tunisia, was the "first to go", though there the threat of radical action rather than actual street violence was the precipitant). In the Gulf states, with large Shi'ite populations—such as in Bahrain, where the Shi'ites constitute the overwhelming majority—Iran's influence will vastly increase, in one or two of them, perhaps to the point of domination. One has yet to see how what is happening will affect eastern Saudi Arabia, via its large Shi'ite minority. (In recent days, I haven't seen much written about Iranian involvement in the Bahrein upheaval. I have little doubt that it was intense.)

IsraeliGirl: Dr. Efraim Sneh, Ex Deputy Defense Minister: "It's all about Iran"

The following post by IsraeliGirl is reposted here with permission.

In the Middle East, the threat map is always changing. invited Dr. Efraim Sneh, former Deputy Defense Minister, to talk about the current threats Israel faces. We met Dr. Sneh a few days before the riots in Egypt erupted. Looking at the overall picture, what's the most serious threat Israel faces today?

Dr. Sneh: Israel is facing one main enemy - Iran. With its race to nuclear weapons Iran is an enemy by itself. However, Iran has managed to create 3 additional fronts against Israel – Hezbollah in Lebanon is armed with tens of thousands of rockets from Iran, Hamas in Gaza is armed with thousands of rockets from Iran, and the global Islamic terror Iran supports makes the 3rd front in which every Jewish entity is a target. Israel has to build up its capabilities to address the Iranian threat and its extensions. What's your take on Lebanon and Hezbollah's attempt to take over the government in Lebanon? How will it change Israel's behavior?

Barry Rubin: Media and Middle East: Wow, These People Are Repressive Dictators! Who Knew?

This post was written by Barry Rubin and is reposted here with his permission.

By Barry Rubin

For those of us who have been trying to talk about Middle East dictators for a long time--I wrote my book on the subject, Modern Dictators, more than a quarter-century ago--it is amusing to see how people are lining up to be "horrified" by those evil repressive regimes.

Some of these people have built their whole careers on saying that the only problem in the Middle East is the Arab-Israeli conflict, then adding this was Israel's fault. Indeed, many of them extolled these dictators, especially the anti-American ones.

Video: The UN Human Rights Council Commends Libya On Human Rights

For Immediate Release:
February 23, 2011
Contact: Anne Bayefsky
(917) 488-1558

Libya and the UN Video

Watch how the United Nations Human Rights System empowered Libya's Colonel Gaddafi

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

In The Midst Of Democratic Revolutions In The Middle East, 2 Christian Priests Have Been Murdered

In the midst of the 'Democratic' revolution spreading through the Middle East, the vicious attack on a woman in Egypt is not the only crime virtually ignored by the mainstream media.

Over the past 2 weeks, 2 priests have been murdered.

Father Marek Rybinski, a Polish Catholic priest, was murdered last week:
Fr. Marek Rybinski, a young Polish Catholic priest working in a Salesian school in Manouba, Tunisia, has been murdered. The Tunisian police suspect Muslim extremists due to the nature of the murder. Fr. Rybinski’s throat had been cut.
As it turns out, a completely different motive for Fr. Rybinski's murder was discovered:
Father Marek Rybinski, the 34-year-old Polish Salesian who was murdered in Tunisia on February 18, was slain by a dishonest worker at the missionary house, according to the local bishop.

“According to official investigations, this person, who was a jack-of-all-trades at the missionary house, was given 2,000 dinars [$1,397] three months ago by Father Rybinski to buy materials to do maintenance work at the school,” said Archbishop Maroun Elias Nimeh Lahham of Tunis. The worker, Chokri Ben Mustapha Bel-Sadek El-Mestiri, “had spent the money, how we don't know. Father Rybinski, seeing that the materials hadn't been purchased, began asking for the money to be returned. Finally, he panicked and killed the missionary.”
However, there was also an excellent reason for suspecting a religion-related motive for the murder--based on threats made against school Rather Rybinski helped run:
The private school run by three priests of the Salesian community in Manouba, near Tunis, one of which was found murdered yesterday, had received death threats in a confused letter addressed to "Jews" today said its director to AFP.

"Warning the Jews. They put cameras and micro home. Put everything you have money in a red bag and give it to a worker from home (...) before noon. No shots phone otherwise it will be war between us and death, "said the anonymous threatening letter with a swastika slipped between the bars of the gate of the school on January 30 and transmitted by the father Mario Mulestagno. [translated from the French by Google Translate--Hat tip: EG]
And now another Coptic Christian has been murdered in Egypt:

Barry Rubin: American Pundits and Policymakers Don’t Understand that Democracy Isn’t Necessarily More Moderate

This post was written by Barry Rubin and is reposted here with his permission.

By Barry Rubin

What must be written in order to promote one’s career in Washington or popularity in the Western world, and what must be written in order to understand the Middle East are two very different things.

Consider the following theme, as expressed by a president, a former secretary of state, and a leading pundit. I could have added dozens of other examples including newspaper editorials. All agree on a certain principle that makes sense in established Western democracies (and thus appeals to their audiences) but is totally at variance with history and reality in the Middle East.

Washington Post: The Muslim Brotherhood Will Be The Same Font Of Moderation As Hamas!

DG sent the following email with his comparative analysis of the Islamist narrative:
Yesterday the Washington Post featured an article: Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood faces prospect of democracy amid internal discord

The gist of the article is, now that they have the obligation of running for office they'll be too busy to be extreme, not that they were extreme in the first place.

It was reminiscent of the sort of article you'd find about Hamas before the elections of 2006. For example in late 2004 and early 2005, Hamas participated in several rounds of municipal elections and this is what the Washngton Post reported then: In Gaza, New Hamas-Dominated Council Attends to Basics

Certain elements appear in each story.

Is The West Really The One Responsible For All These Middle East Despots?

Victor David Hanson writes that come summer, we will finally be able to make sense of what we are seeing now in the Middle East:
By summertime, we will begin to see a new clarity in the Middle East. The old narratives — that American support for authoritarians undermined democratic awakenings; that Iraq was a catastrophe; that we need to reach out to totalitarian regimes like Iran, Libya, and Syria to ensure peace; that Israel continues to impede the future of the region — will, with the new unrest, be proven valid or invalid in a way impossible to imagine just a few weeks ago.

US And UN Limited To Toothless Rebukes Of Libya

Again, you know, this ultimately and fundamentally an issue between, you know, the Libyan government, its leader, and the Libyan people.
State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley

Here we go again.
It looks like when it comes to Libya, Obama will be in Iran-mode, not Egypt-mode--and that means no butting in.

And that has not gone unnoticed.

Jackson Diehl writes about the Obama administration's timid response to Libya:

Arlene Kushner On Israel's Need To Be Strong; Obama's Machinations

The following is from Arlene Kushner's From Israel series, and is reposted here with permission
February 22, 2011

"At the Vortex of a Whirlwind"

We've had the blessing of heavy rain and now there is bright sunshine. I walk outside and the world seems lovely indeed. But a little voice inside of me asks, "What will be?" and I have no answer. This is part of my report from Israel today: There is anxiety, and there is anger. Oh, and add incredulity -- because things are happening that we would have thought impossible. And perhaps more than a little grief.

The world seems on fire all about us, and one horrific disappointment follows another.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Anne Bayefsky: A Snapshot of Today’s United Nations

For Immediate Release:
February 22, 2011
Contact: Anne Bayefsky
(917) 488-1558

A Snapshot of Today’s United Nations

The following snapshot by Anne Bayefsky appears today on Pajamas Media.

Here are some vital statistics on the current crisis in the Arab and Muslim world and the role not being played by the “global leader,” the United Nations:

The UN Security Council job description
(The Charter of the United Nations)

The Purposes of the United Nations are: (1) To maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace...


Number of UN Security Council presidential statements or resolutions on the current atrocities perpetrated against their own people by Arab and Muslim dictators in Iran, Libya, Algeria, Egypt, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Syria, and Bahrain.


Barry Rubin: Egypt: The Most Moderate Democracy Advocate Speaks And Says A Lot

This post was written by Barry Rubin and is reposted here with his permission.

By Barry Rubin

There is no more courageous, sincere, and moderate person in Egypt than the blogger who is known as Sandmonkey. He faced serious harassment under the Mubarak regime and is a big supporter of the democracy movement in his country.

It is interesting to examine some of his recent tweets. I have fixed spelling, put them into paragraphs, and added capitalization but been careful not to alter any of the meaning. My responses are in bold:

"Ok, just so we can calm the nerves of our Israeli twitchy neighbors, let me assure you: we aren't going go to war with you. The Egyptian army and economy are both not equipped for such battles and we have too many targets for your air force to hit. However, we do have numerical superiority and no fear of death and we can draw this out forever, so don't think you're all that [?] either."

Why Does Qaradawi's Fatwa Distinguish Between Libya And Iran?

DG forwarded to me the following article from Babylon and Beyond:
LIBYA: Popular TV cleric issues fatwa against Kadafi

Sheik Yusuf Qaradawi, head of the International Union for Muslim Scholars, issued a fatwa on live television (Arabic link) Monday night urging the Libyan army to kill the country's embattled leader, Moammar Kadafi.

"It is not heroism to fight your people and to hit them with missiles," Qaradawi said in an interview with Al Jazeera, which also hosts his popular show, "Sharia and Life."

Iranian Warships Pass Through Suez--In Accordance With The Constantinople Convention

The Suez Maritime Canal shall always be free and open, in time of war as in time of peace, to every vessel of commerce or of war, without distinction of flag.

Consequently, the High Contracting Parties agree not in any way to interfere with the free use of the Canal, in time of war as in time of peace.

The Canal shall never be subjected to the exercise of the right of blockade.
Article I of the Constantinople Convention of the Suez Canal

And that's that.

And even if Iran were to be classified as a belligerent--which it is to Israel but not to Egypt--it would make no difference. According to Article IV:
The Maritime Canal remaining open in time of war as a free passage, even to ships of war of belligerents, according to the terms of Article I of the present Treaty, the High Contracting Parties agree that no right of war, no act of hostility, nor any act having for its object to obstruct the free navigating of the Canal, shall be committed in the Canal and its ports...
There were rumors that the US was going to send in ships to block their path, but bottom line: there really was no way stop the Iranian ships from passing through.

So off they going, after having paid their $300,000 fee for passage through the Suez Canal.

Still, wouldn't you like to know what Iran is really up to?

Technorati Tag: and .

Rabbi Avi Shafran: The New 'Ethical Seal' On Kashrus And The Agriprocessors 'Scandal'

Scandal Upon Scandal

by Rabbi Avi Shafran

The other day, a reporter contacted me at Agudath Israel of America—I serve as the Agudah’s public affairs director—about the Conservative movement’s planned offering of an “ethical seal” of approval for kosher foods, intended to assure consumers that labor, animal welfare, consumer rights, and environmental impact standards are being adhered to by the producer. Why, he asked, hasn’t the seal been endorsed by the Agudah?

Great Britain: Gaza Is "Hell On Earth"--But Assisting Libya Kill Protesters Is In Their "Overwhelming Interest"?

You may well think that hell on earth would not be an understatement of what the Gazans suffered at that time."
Judge George Bathurst-Norman

Great Britain takes a very dim view of providing arms to Israel:
The judge in the trial of seven activists acquitted of damaging an arms factory suggested that their leader should be awarded the George Cross for his campaign.

The seven were cleared after they successfully claimed they had acted to prevent Israeli "war crimes" when the broke into the Brighton factory on January 17, 2009.

Hailed a great victory by pro-Palestinian activists, the seven from "Smash EDO" were acquitted of causing £180,000 worth of damage to the EDO MBM factory in Brighton - which denied ever having supplied Israel with arms equipment.

In his summing-up speech, in which he attacked both Israel and the United States, Judge George Bathurst-Norman told the Hove Crown Court jury: "You may well think that hell on earth would not be an understatement of what the Gazans suffered at that time."
This is more than just the whim of a judge who overstepped his authority--in Great Britain withholding arms from Israel extends to the political realm as well:
Following public outcry from British citizens and members of Parliament, the United Kingdom in July revoked five licenses for the export of arms components to Israel. The British decision could encourage other European Union (EU) members to review their current Israel export policy, a European Commission (EC) official said. According to a British government official, an EU working group will meet in Brussels Sept. 4 to discuss exports to Israel.
But if the British are really so concerned about the consequences of the weapons they export, why is it that Great Britain is illegally assisting Muslim rulers in killing protesters:

Barry Rubin: Israeli Member of Parliament--Guess Who?--Bashes Obama

This post was written by Barry Rubin and is reposted here with his permission.

By Barry Rubin

This is a fascinating and revealing scoop by the Muqata blog. A member of Israel's parliament attacked President Barack Obama in the nastiest terms:

"After the exposure of lies from the US, we must say frankly to Obama: You no longer scare us and you can go to hell.

“Obama cannot be trusted. We knew his promises were lies. The time has come to spit in the face of the Americans.

"...He is no longer wanted in the Middle East and that he can go to hell."

The 3 Loneliest Countries In The Middle East

The current wave of protests will have a number of consequences in the long term--but in the short term, one of the things these protests have done is highlighted the isolation of 3 different countries in the Middle East.

One obvious one, of course, is Israel. In addition to the problematic borders with Gaza and Lebanon, now Egypt is up in the air--with the prospect of an Islamist takeover. Jordan too has had to deal with protests. The recent story of a Jordanian minister claiming that a Jordanian who murdered 7 Israeli girls is a hero who should be released from prison--served as a reminder that Jordan can not be taken for granted either.

But Israel is not alone in feeling increased isolation these days--Saudi Arabia is feeling isolated too:

Monday, February 21, 2011

Bayefsky and Weinthal: Forget Arab Democracy, Let’s Pretend It’s about Israel

For Immediate Release:
February 21, 2011
Contact: Anne Bayefsky
(917) 488-1558

Forget Arab Democracy, Let’s Pretend It’s about Israel

This article by Anne Bayefsky and Benjamin Weinthal appears today on National Review Online.

It is no coincidence that the Hezbollah-dominated Lebanese government, a non-standing member of the U.N. Security Council and an Iranian subsidiary, sponsored a resolution last Friday condemning Israeli housing construction in the disputed territories. The anti-Israel-resolution activity diverted the U.N. Security Council from passing resolutions against such authoritarian regimes as Iran and Libya for shooting their citizens and suppressing pro-democracy efforts.

Just How Low Has Obama Brought The US: Begging From Abbas

Legal Insurrection on Friday's backhanded veto by Susan Rice of the UN condemnation of Israeli settlements:
The drama of the U.S. practically begging Mahmoud Abbas not to push the resolution, and the apologetic statement of Susan Rice after veto was cast, continue to cement the perception that the U.S. is weak. Which encourages more demands and more intransigence, including the upcoming Palestinian "day of rage" directed at the U.S. for not capitulating to their demands.

It's Not Just Israel--Mideast Unrest Isn't Good For The US Either

For all the analysis of how the current protests and realignments are a danger to Israel--they are not helping the US either.

One obvious fallout of the protests is higher gas prices:
National gas prices are soaring again -- this time by 5.31 cents per gallon in the past two weeks -- to $3.18, according a survey by analyst Trilby Lundberg.

The increase mirrors a leap in crude-oil prices, which have been under upward pressure due to continued unrest in the Arab states. Futures gained as much as 1.2 percent yesterday after security forces in Libya launched attacks on anti-government protesters. Trading is closed today for the Presidents Day holiday.

But aside from the economic fallout from the wave of protests in the Middle East, there is the potential dislodging of the US presence from the Middle East, limiting the ability of the US to look after its interests and increasing instability in the region by giving greater reign to Iran. The current unrest puts the US 5th Fleet in Bahrain in jeopardy:
Could the Kingdom of Bahrain Become an Iranian Pearl Harbor?

When Not "Resisting The Oppressor" Hezbollah Helps Iran Beat Up Those Trying To Do The Same

Iran's favorite puppets are being put to good use back in Iran beating up other Muslims:
Hundreds of Hezbollah fighters have been taking part in the clashes between Iranian security forces and opposition protesters, Israel Radio quoted the London-based pan Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat as reporting on Monday.

According to the report, leaders of Iran's opposition said that some 1,500 Hezbollah men came from Lebanon to Iran in the past several days in order to help the Iranian regime scatter the anti-government protests that recently broke out in the country.
And of course, Hezbollah is wearing their famous and distinctive uniforms:
The Iranian authorities reportedly have been stationing Hezbollah forces, dressed in civilian clothing, throughout Tehran's streets.
You see, the experience Hezbollah has gained from those battles with Israel are being put to good use, fighting the other enemy of the Iranian government: their own people.

Technorati Tag: and .

Palestinian Incitement Of Hate Against Israel Is A Crime--The Crime of Genocide

Dr. Joel Fishman, a historian and a fellow of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs has written a powerful article, distinguished by the new perspectives it provides on what has become an old and continuing problem: Palestinian incitement.

His article, Palestinian Incitement: The Real “Deal Breaker” (PDF) analyzes a phenomenon ignored by the West, the media and by those human rights groups who supposedly are concerned with war crimes outside of the state of Israel.

Examining the issues the likes of Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International ignore, Dr. Fishman details how Palestinian incitement is a violation of the Crime of Genocide as outlined in the 1948 Genocide Convention
As we know from experience, incitement that is diffused publicly for the purpose of encouraging others to commit an offense is a grave matter because it can well be criminal. It provides the means for translating hatred into an interpretive framework (to use Herf’s formulation) and, for example, was identified in the genocidal crimes that took place in Rwanda. Moreover, the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide has identified direct and public incitement as a crime, whether or not it results in genocide. Robert Cryer, in his entry on incitement in The Encyclopedia of Genocide and Crimes against Humanity, described the nature of this crime:

Jennifer Rubin: Traveling in the West Bank (Part 2)

Jennifer Rubin continues her post that she started yesterday about life in the West Bank. At one point, Rubin writes about the differing opinions among Israelis of the settlements--and the settlers themselves:
...Many Israelis have no patience for the settlers. A high-tech magnate attending the Herzliya conference was candid about his negative views of the religious settlers (not unlike a Manhattanite might scornfully refer to "Bible Belters") and told me, "Just because something is mine, doesn't mean I have to exercise that right." For him, Palestinians and the land they occupy must be separated from Israel so that Palestinians are not "ruled" by Israel. He insisted no autonomy arrangement would suffice and that if Israel gives them the West Bank the world will leave Israel alone, even though not all of the West Bank will go back. But would the "international community" really relent?

Jennifer Rubin: Traveling in the West Bank (Part 1)

Here is an excerpt from the first part of an article by Jennifer Rubin, illustrating how little those who offer their opinions about the West Bank settlements actually know about the area
...Even well-informed consumers of international media imagine that the West Bank is crowded, dangerous and replete with roadblocks and officious Israeli security forces. So when one leaves Jerusalem, crosses the Green Line -- a cement wall and a checkpoint (not unlike the set-up for an agent at a U.S. border) -- and travels up and down the highways of Samaria (the portion of the West Bank extending north), you realize how little non-Israelis know about the Jews who live in territory that is the focal point of so much international attention.

IsraeliGirl: Appeasement 1938 vs. 2011

The following post is by IsraeliGirl and is reposted here with permission

On the streets of Tehran brave people are fighting for their freedom. Despite the rain, despite the tear gas, despite a stultifying security presence of police forces arresting protesters - the Iranians are not giving up.

World powers should support the frail call for freedom heard in Iran. The people under the cruel dictatorial regime of the Ayatollahs need all the help they can get to break free.

Instead we're seeing a rare meeting between Germany's Foreign Minister and President Ahmadinejad.

Attempt To Extend "Jasmine Revolution" To China Are Stopped Cold

The revolution in Tunisia not only set up a chain reaction within that region--some are trying to extend the momentum that has rushed through the Middle East to other oppressed countries--such as China.

But the Chinese government is ready.
Police in several mainland cities detained top activists amid heavy security to squelch a web-based campaign for action on the lines of the democracy- demanding "Jasmine Revolution" sweeping the Middle East.

Crowds gathered yesterday afternoon in several cities, including in front of a McDonald's in Beijing, but dispersed in the face of a massive police presence.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

NGOs Demand Libya's Suspension From UNHRC

Press Release from UN Watch
24 rights groups urge US and EU
to confront Libyan massacres in
UN Security Council and Human Rights Council

NGOs demand Libya's suspension from UNHRC; UN Watch calls
for urgent dispatch of medical supplies to hospitals

GENEVA, February 20, 2010 - An international coalition of 24 rights groups urged world powers to convene the UN Security Council and the Human Rights Council to protect Libyan civilians from government killings, in a letter sent today to the U.S., the EU and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. (See full text below)

Signatories include the U.S.-based National Endowment for Democracy and Physicians for Human Rights, the Geneva-based UN Watch, and 21 other groups from Switzerland, India, Liberia, Italy, Nigeria, Germany, Sudan, Venezuela, Somalia, Thailand, and the United Kingdom.

The letter asserts that the widespread atrocities committed by Libya against its own people are "particularly odious" actions that amount to war crimes, requiring member states to take action through the Security Council under the responsibility to protect doctrine.

Arlene Kushner On "American Angst"

The following is from Arlene Kushner's From Israel series, and is reposted here with permission
February 20, 2011

"What the Hell Is Going On?"

On Friday the US vetoed the resolution that had been advanced in the UN Security Council by Lebanon, on behalf of Palestinian Authority, that would have condemned the Israeli "settlements" as illegal; the other 14 members of the SC voted for this -- which, according to Abbas made his venture a success.

OK. Good. Better that it was vetoed. Prime Minister Netanyahu expressed appreciation to President Obama. Certain members of Congress, who had called on the president to cast that vote, did the same.

But from me Obama gets no thanks. He wasn't doing this to support us. The US government has made it clear that it is opposed in principle to the "settlements." It's just that it is still committed to getting parties to return to the negotiating table.

PA Just Continues Its Non-Stop Incitement Of Hatred Against Israel

After all, why shouldn't it?

After all, it's not as if promises were made.
Both parties are taking some steps to help create an atmosphere that is conducive to successful talks, including President Abbas’ statement that he will work against incitement of any sort...
Special Envoy George Mitchell, May 9, 2010


And I say in front of you, Mr. President, that we have nothing to do with incitement against Israel, and we’re not doing that. What we care about is to live in coexistence with Israel, in order to bring about the independent Palestinian state that will live side by side with Israel in peace and stability.
Abbas, June 9, 2010
Since Abbas didn't keep his word then, there really is no reason to expect him to do anything to stop the incitement of hatred against Israel now, is there?--especially since Abbas has effectively scuttled the talks, after dragging his feet for so many months.

So this latest Palestinian tribute to terrorism is no surprise.

Qaradawi And Women's Rights

An email from DG
There's a really cute story in the Washington Post: Egypt women stand for equality in the square

Though the reporter was reporting from the demonstration on Friday, there was no mention of Sheikh Qaradawi's views on gender equality. There was some really good stuff in this article, but towards the end, there was an interview about women's future roles in Egypt was priceless.
Abdel Ibrahim Hassan, a man who came to Tahrir Square on Friday to celebrate the revolution with untold thousands of his fellow citizens, argued that women have an enviable standing already and that Western prejudices should not assume they need change.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Wael Ghonim Meets Reality

Based on an email from DG:

Thomas Friedman waxes poetic about Wael Ghonim
Indeed, it is no surprise that the emerging spokesman for this uprising is Wael Ghonim — a Google marketing executive who is Egyptian. He opened a Facebook page called “We are all Khaled Said,” named for an activist who was allegedly beaten to death by police in Alexandria. And that page helped spark the first protests here. Ghonim was abducted by Egyptian security officials on Jan. 28, and he was released on Monday. On Monday night, he gave an emotional TV interview that inspired many more people to come into the square on Tuesday. And when he spoke there in the afternoon, he expressed the true essence of this uprising.
Roger Cohen is a big fan of Wael Ghonim too:
The sea of people pulsated with energy, galvanized by the words of Wael Ghonim, the young Google executive who got the Mubarak treatment — 12-day disappearance, blindfolding, interrogation — before a tweet that will one day be etched in some granite memorial: “Freedom is a bless that deserves fighting for it.”

Video: Latma vs. Jordan TV--Only One Of These Videos Is A Satire

Let's compare a segment of this week's Latma with a Jordian news segment.

Here is the Latma video:it is set to start with a later segment, with a satire of the history of Mohammed and his killing of Jews...

Now contrast that segment with this video from Jordan--interviews with a Jordanian attorney, a Jordanian human rights organization and a Lebanese news commentator in 2009 justifying the actions of Ahmed Daqamseh who fatally shot seven 11 year-old Israeli schoolgirls. They describe his "heroism" born of "patriotic rage" as a basic, natural response. The murdered Israeli girls are described as "a group of Zionists" representing all Israeli offenses real and imagined who offend Islam.

Barry Rubin: Egypt Gets Its Khomeini: Qaradawi Returns in Triumph

This post was written by Barry Rubin and is reposted here with his permission.

This article was published in American Thinker but the full text--with additional material--is posted here. I'd prefer that you forwarded, read, or reprinted this text.

By Barry Rubin

Friday, February 18 may be a turning point in Egyptian history. On this day Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the best-known Muslim Brotherhood cleric in the world and one of the most famous Islamist thinkers, will address a mass rally in Cairo.

It was 32 years ago almost to the day when Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini returned in triumph to Tehran to take the leadership of that country. Qaradawi has a tougher job but he's up to the challenge if his health holds up.

Video: Latma--An Ode to Muhammed and Gabi Ashkenazi's Thrilling Farewell

This week's Latma is out.
Check out their video:

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Arlene Kushner On US And UN Resolution, Mubarak vs Egyptian Army and Iranian Ships

The following is from Arlene Kushner's From Israel series, and is reposted here with permission
February 17, 2011

"It Never Stops"

My approach yesterday of providing good news first seemed to be well received. But today I must start with the bad news, because I don't want to chance some of my readers just reading the good stuff and not getting to the rest.


News has broken of willingness by the Obama administration to allow criticism of Israel with regard to "settlements" to go through in the Security Council, if the tone is softened.

Can Obama Be As Firm With Iran As Fiamma Nirenstein?

During a debate yesterday in the Italian Parliamentary Assembly, Fiamma Nirenstein--the Vice-President of the Committee on Foreign Affairs--made the following statement about negotiating with Iran:
Given the recent demonstrations in Iranian cities, with the Iranian people once again proving their profound enmity towards a government that violates all their human rights; given the violence perpetrated by the Iranian security forces; and given the disconcerting images, in all today’s newspapers, of the Iranian parliament demanding the hanging of the opposition leaders, I announce that, in my capacity as Vicepresident of the Foreign Affairs Committee, I will not participate in tomorrow’s meeting of my Committee with a delegation of Iranian parliamentarians, headed by the President of the Iranian Foreign Affairs Committee.

A Reminder Of What Strong US Support For Israel Looks Like (You May Have Forgotten)

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Chairperson of the House Foreign Affairs Committee spoke out strongly in response to the decision by the Obama administration to criticize Israel on the settlements:
Ros-Lehtinen Comments on Reports that U.S. Offered to Criticize Israel in UN Security Council Statement Calls on Administration to stand publicly and unequivocally with Israel at UN

(WASHINGTON) – U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, issued the following statement today regarding reports that the United States, seeking to avoid having to decide whether to veto a pending United Nations Security Council draft resolution critical of Israel, has offered to support instead a Security Council Presidential Statement critical of Israel. Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:

Quick Test: Can You Refute These Myths About Tomorrow’s UN Security Council Settlements Vote?

It was reported yesterday on Turtle Bay that In sharp reversal, U.S. agrees to rebuke Israel in Security Council

The HonestReporting blog Backspin addresses the myths surrounding the UN vote on Israeli settlements:
The UN Security Council’s meeting tomorrow to vote on a resolution against Israeli settlement activity. It’s time to clear up a few myths out there.
  • Myth: A US veto will spark Arab rage.
  • Myth: The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the biggest source of regional instability.
  • Myth: A veto will lead to America’s isolation.
  • Myth: The world will benefit from having Israel put in it’s place.
  • Myth: The Palestinian issue must not be relegated to the back-burner.
Take a quick test: can you refute these myths?
If not, check out Backspin for the answers.

Technorati Tag: and .

Iran Is On The Move, While The US Remains "Curious" (Update: On or Off?)

I wrote a few days ago about the Iranian warships coming to Saudi Arabia. Now there are Iranian warships making their way to Syria:
Israel is monitoring two Iranian warships about to pass through the Suez Canal for Syria and warn they might act.

The Israeli navy will be tracking the two warships as they cross the Suez Canal for the Mediterranean Sea, according to defense officials.

Israeli's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman says that "Israel cannot ignore these provocations," according to

...Iran announced plans to deploy warships near Israel and dock at a Syrian port for a year, 

This is no small thing, as evidenced by the fact that The Wall Street Journal reports that US Stocks Pull Back On Iran Warship Concerns.

J.E. Dyer notes the implications of the Iranian ship entering the Suez:

Arlene Kushner: Some Good News--And Some Not So Good

The following is from Arlene Kushner's From Israel series, and is reposted here with permission
February 16, 2011

"Seeking the Rays of Light"

The news is so abysmal that I've chosen to begin with good things. It's important to be grateful for all that is good, and to take time to pay attention to what is positive. If we don't do this, we run the risk of feeling overwhelmed.

If Human Rights Watch Is Going To Conduct Themselves Like Anti-Israel Activists...

Yesterday, I posted a press release from NGO Monitor about the HRW appointment of Shawan Jabarin, who has ties to the PFLP terrorist group

Jennifer Rubin suggests some concrete actions that should be taken with HRW as a result of this latest in a series of episodes illustrating the HRW bias against Israel:

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Barry Rubin: Revolution in Tunisia, Reform in Jordan Unleashes Anti-Jewish Forces

This post was written by Barry Rubin and is reposted here with his permission.

By Barry Rubin

Recently, when I spoke on developments in Egypt, a serious and respected Middle East expert claimed that there was no sign of anti-American or anti-Israel slogans in Egypt or Tunisia during their revolutions. Really?

This is simply not true. The fact that a Jewish prayer room was burned down in Tunisia received only one passing mention in the New York Times, and none at all in other major newspapers. Moreover, we now can see footage of a big Islamist demonstration in Tunisia in front of the main synagogue including anti-Jewish chants.

Iranian Opposition Leaders Unbowed--As Iran Continues To Apply Pressure

Despite outright death threats, leaders of the opposition to Iran has not given up:
Iran’s opposition leaders remained defiant Wednesday despite calls from hard-liners for them to be brought to trial and put to death, with one reform advocate saying he was willing to “pay any price” in pursuit of democratic change.

Solving The Israel-Palestine Is Everything--To The West; To The Arabs--Not So Much

Brendan O'Neill, editor of Spiked Online, notes that the West makes a bigger deal of the Israel-Palestine crisis than the Arab street:
"UNTIL the Palestinians are given back their rights we're going to have instability throughout the Middle East," declared John Pilger on ABC1's Q & A last night. "That is central to everything."

Yet, one of the most striking things about the uprising in Egypt was the lack of pro-Palestine placards. As Egypt-watcher Amr Hamzawy put it, in Tahrir Square and elsewhere there were no signs saying "death to Israel, America and global imperialism" or "together to free Palestine". Instead, this revolt was about Egyptian people's own freedom and living conditions.

IsraeliGirl: Behind the Boycott Calls - Conspiracy Theories and Support for Terrorism

The following post is by IsraeliGirl, and is reposted here with permission:

Behind the Boycott Calls -
Conspiracy Theories and Support for Terrorism

Music is the voice of peace, but to some anything to do with Israel is a reason for hate. A few weeks ago, singer Macy Gray was the target as she planned her visit in Israel. Now it's the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra, which is on tour in the US this February. A protest is being planned outside Carnegie Hall while the Philharmonic plays inside. decided to investigate who's behind this protest and what's the real motive. Our investigation led us to bizarre organizations spreading dark conspiracy theories and supporting terror.

Arlene Kushner On The Euphoria Over Egypt

The following is from Arlene Kushner's From Israel series, and is reposted here with permission
February 15, 2011

"Telling It Straight"

Enough, a part of my brain keeps telling me. Take a rest from the writing. And yet I find myself compelled, again and again, to make points that must be made.

What I'm seeing in too many quarters is a simplistic rejoicing at what has happened in Egypt, for --according to those who rejoice -- we're witnessing a new day, with the flowering of democracy. The people have spoken.

Coupled with this is criticism -- both implicit and overt -- of Israel for being the "spoil sport." Why are we not joining the celebration? Why are we so stuck in our old thinking, and so negative?

And it's not just that old Israel-basher Tom Friedman, either.


Coupled with this, of course, is the push for us to take advantage of this wonderful new time and quickly sit down with Mahmoud Abbas and forge a peace treaty.


Thus have I decided to write: To reinforce the points that need to be made, yet again.

NGO Monitor: HRW Appoints ‘Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’ to MidEast Advisory Board

For Immediate Release
February 16, 2010

Contact: Jason Edelstein, +972-52-861-2129

Shawan Jabarin Appointment Infers Illegitimacy of Israeli Supreme Court

JERUSALEM – Signaling the continuing decline of the organization, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has appointed Shawan Jabarin, an alleged senior activist in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terrorist organization, to its Middle East Advisory Board. This appointment, as first reported in the Daily Beast, is further evidence of the moral collapse and corruption in HRW, says Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor, a research institution that tracks NGOs.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Rabbi Avi Shafran: Pundits On Pluto


by Rabbi Avi Shafran

Nicholas Kristof was intoxicated.

That’s not a value judgment. It was The New York Times columnist’s own self-assessment in a February 1 column, his inebriation the result of having been amid a crowd of Egyptian protesters against Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak in Cairo’s Tahrir Square at the end of January. No alcohol was involved, of course; the crowd was overwhelmingly Muslim. The contact high was, and remains, entirely political.

The square, Mr. Kristof recounted, which in the past had been a place of unruly behavior, had “lost its menace and suddenly become the most exhilarating place in the world.” And the reason was because of the hope he inhaled from “the brave men and women of Tahrir Square,” the “peaceful throngs pleading for democracy.” The participants, in other words, in the “Days of Rage” demonstrations that in subsequent days led to Mr. Mubarak’s resignation.

IsraeliGirl: Hate links to report - keep it up it's working

The following was originally posted on IsraeliGirl and is reposted here with permission:

Hate links to report - keep it up it's working

Thank you all for taking part in's online hate fighting efforts. I'm happy to report that our previous collective efforts caused Facebook to disable hate spreading groups and profiles.

This success proved that this method is working. By exposing the hate spread by these groups and people we can fight back and close their accounts for violation of terms of service.

But this is an ongoing battle. Following are a 2nd batch of links to report. This time we included some flotilla related groups which are spreading hate against Israel in the US and Canada as they try to organize a massive flotilla to "break the siege" in Gaza. The organizers of these flotillas know very well that Israel will deliver any aid into Gaza through the crossings. Their main aim is delegitimation of the state of Israel, aid is just a cover story. Such delegitimation efforts against Israel fuel modern anti Semitism.

Below are links to hate spreading pages on Facebook. Please choose a link, click on it, scroll down to the bottom left hand side and click on report. You must be logged on to your Facebook account to report.

Video: Harvard's Niall Ferguson Interview: Obama Blew It

You will not find a sharper head on analysis of the Obama administration's handling of the Egyptian revolution--critical of both Obama and his advisors.

Vote In The Pro-Israel Blogoff!

They are now up to the 4th match of the first round of the Pro-Israel Blogoff, featuring:
Please take a moment to go and vote.

Technorati Tag: .

Iran Pulls No Punches: You Protest--You Die!

It's now a capital offense to protest in Iran:
Iran lawmakers urge death for opposition leaders

Iranian lawmakers called for the death penalty on Tuesday for opposition leaders they accused of fomenting unrest after a rally in which a least one person was killed and dozens were wounded, state media said.

Barry Rubin: What is the Real Meaning of Egypt's Revolution?

This post was written by Barry Rubin and is reposted here with his permission.

This article was published at American Thinker. The full text--with improvements and additions--is published here for your convenience. This is my preferred version.

By Barry Rubin

"The People Toppled the Government,” is al-Ahram's headline, and the general interpretation of the Egyptian revolution around the world. That's true but only partly true. Mubarak's pedestal was shaken by the people but he was pushed off it by the army and the establishment.

Protests Around The Middle East: Focus On Iran--And Even In Iraq!

From an email from DG:
1) The Washington Post covers the other protests currently going on in the Middle East.
Violent protests erupted in Iran, Yemen and Bahrain on Monday as the revolutionary fervor unleashed by the toppling of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak rippled across the Middle East, propelling people onto the streets to demand change from a spectrum of autocratic regimes. 
The focus is on Iran.

The crowds, which numbered in the tens of thousands, suggested that the seemingly cowed Green Movement that emerged to challenge Iran's theocratic regime after disputed elections in June 2009 had been inspired by the success of Egypt's revolutionaries. Many protesters wore green ribbons, the symbol of the opposition movement. 
What I find interesting is that here the term "disputed" is used, but I thought I'd read an article using more specifics when dealing with Egypt. I did find such an article:Free, fair elections still distant prospect for Egypt

Middle East: Protests For Democracy Amid Expressions Of Antisemitism

The current protest movement may or may not represent the advent of liberty and democracy and all things good for Egyptians. This remains to be seen. But one thing is certain: it represents the advent of the complete banalization of anti-Semitism as far as the Western media is concerned.
John Rosenthal, "Anti-Semitic Imagery at Egypt Protests Draws Yawns from Western Media"

In addition to the article quoted above, John Rosenthal wrote a followup article: Democracy or Jew-Hatred? More Evidence of Anti-Semitism at the Egypt Protests.

He even goes one step further, documenting in a third article instances of anti-Semitism that were supposedly instigated by the Mubarak government, but in reality such antisemtism was a product of the same independent media that brought down the Mubarak regime--quoting Martin Kramer that the instances of antisemitism "actually surfaced precisely in those parts of the media that were allowed to operate with greater freedom".

Arlene Kushner On The Latest In Egypt

The following is from Arlene Kushner's From Israel series, and is reposted here with permission
February 14, 2011

"Holding Our Own"

I'm starting this posting with a call for assistance for a tzedakah project. If a sufficient number of you respond -- and I'm not asking for money -- it might make a difference.

A Bar Ilan student by the name of Dovid Levine, working with other students, wants to start a homeless shelter in Jerusalem, where people will be given assistance in changing their lives. Quite an undertaking.

Dovid has entered his organization, Matzav, in the Dell Social Innovation Competition, which is seeking university students "with innovative ideas to solve a social or environmental problem." Matzav is the only Israeli entry.

Entries are rated by votes (which is where you come in). Those in the top 10 by February 18 have a run-off; the winner receives $50,000 to kick-off the proposed project. Right now the Matzav project is within the top 10, but it must continue to receive votes for the next few days to hold its place.

You can read about the project here:

If you are inclined to help, go to the Dell page: and click on "vote now." (You will have to register.) To find Matzav, click on "top ideas" and scroll down.


Monday, February 14, 2011

Iran: The Egyptian Revolution Is Not Our Export--It's An Import!

From Al Jazeera, makes an interesting observation on how Iran's interpretation of the Egytian revolution may have changed:
Iran's clerics, and its Supreme Leader, have mostly been pushing the line that events in Egypt are the ideological stepchild of Iran's 1979 revolution.

At Friday prayers last week, Khameinei declared:
This is what was always referred to as the Islamic awakening created by the victory of the great Islamic revolution of the Iranian nation and is showing itself today.
But as Iran's leaders claim to have successfully exported their political model, (claims that didn't seem to go down too well in Egypt), Iran's former President Ayatollah Rafsanjani believes the opposite: that Iran may, in fact, end up importing Egypt's revolution.

Video: "Total Chaos" Reported In Iran

Clair Berlinski has been following reports from Twitter, and the indications are that the protests in Iran are for real--and that Obama better get this one right from the get-go:
Obama, if you screw this one up, history will never forgive you. Think about that. You will never be forgiven by history. You're the president of the United States of America. Swallow your pride. Get rid of that clown Clapper, get rid of all the incompetents advising you, and get an experienced A-team in the White House, now.

Taliban Says Afghanistan Will Be The Next To Fall

The Taliban is claiming that of all Muslim countries where the regime is ripe to be overthrown by its people--Afghanistan will be the next to fall:
Mubarak's ouster on Friday after three decades in power demonstrates that "many weapons and soldiers and much foreign assistance cannot keep a regime in power and that they cannot always hinder the caravan of 'hope and demands' of a nation", the Taliban said on its website on Sunday, according to SITE Intelligence Group.

Barry Rubin: Why Won't "The Beautiful People" See the Radical Islamist Threat?

This post was written by Barry Rubin and is reposted here with his permission.

By Barry Rubin

I don't understand why Westerners feel the need to become apologists for a revolutionary Islamism that opposes all their rights and values. Many Arabs and Muslims, who have first-hand experience with Islamism, think this is nuts.

Thus, Nicholas Krostof, who is saved from being the worst Western journalist writing about the Middle East only by Roger Cohen, writes:

"Stop treating Islamic fundamentalism as a bogyman and allowing it to drive American foreign policy. American paranoia about Islamism has done as much damage as Muslim fundamentalism itself."

So is revolutionary Islamism a "bogyman" fear of which is damaging U.S. foreign policy?

Does the following sound like a "bogyman," which implies a fantasy rather than a real threat?:

No, We Cannot Pick And Choose Which Regimes Get Overthrown

Michael Barone points out that--with all due respect--there are other governments we would have preferred being overthrown over Egypt:
Most Americans cannot help but rejoice to see a distasteful authoritarian regime toppled. The spectacle of masses of people rejoicing at the prospect of freedom and democracy cannot help but be heartening.

But on reflection most of us would probably prefer to have seen a victory of people power in Tehran or Pyongyang than in Cairo. Mubarak's Egypt was an ally of the United States, at least somewhat helpful in our own efforts in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East, and a nation at peace, albeit a cold peace, with Israel.

Arlene Kushner On The Transition In Egypt

The following is from Arlene Kushner's From Israel series, and is reposted here with permission
February 13, 2011

"Really Fast Transition"

Well, I wasn't off the mark when I wrote briefly on Friday. I acknowledged readily enough that the situation was very much in flux and that no one knew what was coming; I saw matters pointed in the direction of military control.

And yet...I did not imagine that by the time I had removed myself from computer and TV, and had lit my Shabbat candles, Mubarak would already be gone. Really fast, indeed!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Saudi Arabia: Hey US, Guess Who's Coming To Dinner!

Melanie Phillips writes that Obama's performance during the Egyptian protests has pushed Saudi Arabia away:
By reaching out his hand of friendship to the enemies of America and the free world and dumping on its allies, he has alienated those upon whom America has depended. By trying to push Mubarak under the Islamist bus, Obama has now managed to lose Saudi Arabia which, we learn, has actually been moved to revolt against America’s ditching of the Egyptian president -- indeed, the Saudis actually threatened the US that if it withdrew its aid programme to Egypt in order to force Mubarak out, the Saudis would step in to bankroll Egypt themselves. For King Abdullah has well understood the message that is flashing round the world in neon lights as a result of Obama’s behaviour: America shafts its allies.

...Moreover, the outcome of losing trust in the US is that Saudi – and the rest of the relatively less extreme Arab states – will now line up instead with the regime they recognise as the strong horse in the region and which is getting stronger by the day as a direct result of Obama’s policy: Iran.
Now this might seem a bit extreme--after all, it is hard to imagine the Sunni Arab world allying itself with the Shiite Iran. But guess what?

It's already happening.