August 12, 2015

Why Don't We Hear About the Fate of Palestinians?

As of this May, 2,770 Palestinians had been killed since the start of the civil war in Syria. But when Palestinians there sought refuge in Palestinian controlled Gaza and the West Bank, PA President Mahmoud Abbas turned them down. He said, "It's better that they die in Syria than that they give up their right of return [to Israel]."

In Arab countries, Palestinians are subject to apartheid laws such as the ones in Lebanon that prevent them from working in many professions including medicine, law, engineering, and accounting. This stands in sharp contrast to Israel where all professions are open and Arab-Israelis are also Supreme Court justices and Knesset members.

While the Arab/Palestinian population in Israel is constantly growing, Palestinians have been and are being expelled from Arab countries in which they have lived for years.

In the 1990's, 200,000 Palestinians were forced to leave Kuwait.

In Iraq, only 6,000 out of 25,000 Palestinians are left. According to the head of the Palestinian League in Iraq, Thamer Meshainesh, militias routinely attack Palestinians as part of an organized plan to get them to leave the country.

Khaled Abu Toameh writes:

...when it comes to ethnic cleansing and torture of Palestinians in Arab countries such as Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon, the Palestinian leadership chooses to look the other way.

Similarly, the international media seems to have forgotten that there are tens of thousands of Palestinians living in various Arab countries. The only Palestinians that Western journalists know and care about are those living in the West Bank and Gaza strip.

Toameh's report this week, "The Secret Ethnic Cleansing of Palestinians" is startling because media tell us so little about Palestinians in the Arab world.

If Israel can't be blamed, there seems to be no interest in what happens to Palestinians.

July 21, 2015

The Iran Deal and Doublethink

                                                                                                                published at Honest Reporting

The substance of what’s wrong with the Iran deal (see here and here) can also be found in the uses and abuses of language surrounding the deal.

It is hard to reconcile that the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran say, directly, that we should not expect them to change in any way, and yet, the US led team of negotiators seems to disregard the plain meaning of these leaders’ actions and words. It may not quite be George Orwell’s “doublethink” in 1984:

“To know and not to know…to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic…”

But it is certainly disturbing.

The Best Deal We Could Get

Ever since Franklin D. Roosevelt realized that he could bypass the need for a 2/3 majority vote from Congress by referring to a treaty as something other than a treaty, presidents have at times called treaties “executive agreements.” The treaty with Iran goes by the name, the deal

And though discussion might have centered on whether this was a good or bad treaty, calling it a “deal” has not only made it sound like a less than weighty agreement, it seems also to have obscured why we, that is, the West as represented by the US, EU and UK, were negotiating in the first place.

The point of “dealing” with Iran was to prevent it from getting nuclear weapons.
Lifting sanctions was to occur in order to stop Iran’s nuclear build up. Since the deal does not accomplish this, the Saudis, Jordanians, Egyptians and Israelis, 77% of Americans, and Iranians (those who have left Iran and are free to voice their opinions) are against it.

It is not as if the US, UK, Germany and France actually need a deal with Iran. (Perhaps China and Russia are happy with the deal for economic reasons.) But the West and the Middle East do need Iran, the world’s biggest enabler of terrorism, not to add nuclear weapons to its arsenal.
If this really were the best deal that could be arranged, the logical alternative would be no deal – at least not yet.

Centrifuge and Subterfuge

The focus on making a deal--as opposed to influencing Iran’s behavior--has led to some weird obfuscation. 

Even if there will be some slowing of Iran’s process for the next few years, the materials and machinery needed for making nuclear weapons are still in place. The promised “anytime-anywhere” inspections not only have disappeared, they’ve been replaced with an up to 24-day advance notice and, even more bizarre, with the requirement that the Iranians must receive specific explanation of the cause for the inspection. 

US Undersecretary of State, Wendy Sherman said that calling for anytime-anywhere inspections was merely “rhetorical.”

The Not Moderate Republic

Everything other than the sanctions and the nuclear program was “off the table.” The deal lifts the sanctions and pretty much keeps the nuclear program. Human rights of Iranians were not discussed, not the beatings or killings of victims of rape, nor the hanging of gays, nor the lack of freedoms overall. Off the table, also, was discussion of the illegally imprisoned four Americans being held there.

Nor was Iran asked, in exchange for lifting the economic sanctions against it, to stop threatening Israel, to stop supporting terrorism by Hezbollah in Lebanon, Assad’s forces in Syria, or Hamas in Gaza. In fact, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenai announced, the day after the “deal” was completed, that this “victory” would change nothing about “policy toward the arrogant US” or their agenda, an agenda that uses very clear language. 

Throughout the months of negotiations, Iranian leaders led chants of “death to America” and “death to Israel” and reiterated their goals of becoming the dominant force in the Middle East, as they believe is the destiny of the Islamist Republic of Iran.

Trying to account for agreement to this deal seems to require Orwell’s doublethink.

June 27, 2015

"Bloody Friday" Free Pass For Terror?

                                Tourists leaving Sousse, Tunisia after terror attack            --photo: Daily Record 

ISIS supporters made good on the call this week from Abu Muhammad al-Adani, Islamic State official spokesman, to use the month of Ramadan to create a “calamity for the infidels…and apostate Muslims.”

On Friday, they slaughtered 38 people, mostly tourists from England, who were relaxing at a beach in Tunisia.  Earlier in the day, terrorists in France beheaded a businessman after ramming a truck into a factory and causing an explosion. And at around the same time, in Kuwait, a suicide bomber killed 25 worshipers and injured hundreds at a mosque.

On any given day if you happen to be an “infidel,” that is, a Christian, Jew, Hindu, or Buddhist, or if you are a Muslim who goes to the wrong kind of mosque, a former Muslim, or an atheist, you are a target. A target wide as the world.

While the horror that was the beach at Sousse, and the beheading in France by a terrorist who was known to French authorities, may take Western attention for a while (for a lifetime for those who lost loved ones and those who are among the many wounded) it is especially scary to think that quickly we will stop paying attention, again.

Terror attacks in France and Tunisia are very recent, those that ended the lives of 12 people who were working at the offices of Charlie Hebdo and 4 people who were shopping in a kosher market in Paris as well as the terrorism at the Bardo Museum in Tunis that left 22 people dead.  Yet, every new attack shows up as if anomalous, as if only tenuously connected to what has come before, and without acknowledgment by Western powers of the war that has been declared on us.  

Instead there will be some speeches and memorials and investigations. The UN will focus its next emergency session on Israel.

As a member of the vast, world majority of non-jihadists, of we, the people enjoying living life and intent on continuing to do so, I’d be encouraged to hear some direct statements from our leadership. What kind of plan is there for defense of the overwhelming majority of the people of the world?

A disturbing question but an obvious one:  Is giving nuclear weapons to Iran --whose mullahs see themselves in opposition to ISIS but also to the US and Israel – the best you can do?