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Sunday, February 29, 2004

Why not a Conciliation day ?

Some days ago, Mewnews distributed the news that Arafat is to Launch 'Day of Rage' against Israel's Apartheid Wall according to the Palestine Media Center – PMC. as discussed previously in the MEW log.

One of us started wondering, "Has Arafat ever launched a 'Day of Conciliation'? Has anyone? "

Another answered, "Good question. I don't remember one."

My own answer was lighter, " St Valentine's day?"


by Editor @ 02:25 AM CST [Link]

Saturday, February 28, 2004

Oh Tannenbaum our Tennenbaum: Israel's great security fiasco.

The Israeli-Hizbollah prisoner exchange conducted on January 29 raised more than a few eyebrows. Israel exchanged hundreds of live prisoners, including some very unpleasant characters, and many bodies, in return for the bodies of three soldiers and a shady businessman and IDF reserve officer, Elhanan Tennenbaum (Tannenbaum).


by Editor @ 07:10 PM CST [Link]

What if?

I was Just reading that article below. It led me to wonder what could prevent Vanunu
of starting a legal proceeding in Italy or in America for kidnapping against
an Israeli agent?

Thursday, February 26, 2004 Ha`aretz
Times man: 'It's Vanunu's kidnap story that worries Israel' By Yossi Melman

Vanunu was kidnapped in Rome, to which he had been lured from London by
"Cindy," a Mossad agent. It was later revealed that "Cindy" was in fact a
young American woman named Cheryl Hanin, who had immigrated to Israel and
worked for the Mossad. A few years ago, it turned out that she is living in
Orlando, Florida with her Israeli husband.

In a way, he can even do it from Israel. Not sure if his brothers couldn't
do it for him.


by Editor @ 07:07 PM CST [Link]

The Republic of Gaza

I have just read in an article in Ha'aretz :

"Meanwhile, Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller, visiting Israel on Thursday, proposed posting an international force in Gaza and the West Bank after Israel's disengagement, and asked under which conditions Israel would agree. Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom rejected it out of hand, saying an international force would not be able to halt terror, but would prevent Israel from doing so. Shalom said it was important the Palestinians meet their security commitments, and said an international force could only come "as a result of an agreement and not instead of an agreement." "


by Editor @ 07:06 PM CST [Link]

No Right of Return for the other refugees

"Right of Return" for Palestinian refugees is an issue that is used by organizations like Al-Awda and Badil to block the progress of peace negotiations. For the refugees themselves, it is a real enough issue. They lost homes and businesses in 1948. Many have keys to their houses in "Palestine," houses that no longer exist. [more]

by Moderator @ 02:22 PM CST [Link]

Friday, February 27, 2004

Saudi Arabia: No Jews need apply

Congressman Anthony Weiner has complained about the tourist visa policy of Saudi Arabia. Their policy is indeed illuminating, in the light of all the complaints about racial profiling at US airports. No Jewish people can get visas, and of course, no Israelis or people with an Israeli stamp in their passport can get tourist visas, at least not officially. [more]

by Moderator @ 08:27 PM CST [Link]

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Mel Gibson's Passion Take 2 - what it means to whom

Mel Gibson's "The Passion" opened on Ash Wednesday. It is clearly an important film in many ways despite the tawdry publicity that accompanied it. It will fast become a part of Western culture, torture scenes, hooked-nosed Jews and all, just as Gone with the Wind is a part of Western culture, with its burning of Atlanta and the legitimizing of the Klan and the Southern Cause. Great cinema is not necessarily edifying. [more]

by Moderator @ 03:00 AM CST [Link]

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Is Saudi Arabia running low on oil??

It is a bit of a shock to read in the NY Times that Saudi Arabia may be running low on oil in the near future, or that it may not be able to meet rising demand. Oil makes the modern industrial world go round. Saudi Arabia holds between a quarter and a third of the world's estimated oil reserves. What Newcastle was to coal in the nineteenth century, Saudi Arabia is to oil in the twentieth century, and more. [more]

by Moderator @ 08:56 PM CST [Link]

Egyptian and Saudi Rulers: No to Democracy

The rulers of Egypt and Saudi Arabia have rejected President George Bush's initiative for democracy in the Middle East. A joint statement issued on the occasion of Egyptian President Mubarak's visit to Saudi Arabia explained why there cannot be free elections, free speech and fair trials, and why Saudi women cannot get drivers' licenses. [more]

by Moderator @ 04:54 PM CST [Link]

Of Civilization and Hypocrisy

Israel Bonan asks, "Can we honestly deplore terrorism, while we condone governments with weapons of mass destruction?"

The human ethical standard is, as it should be, a living standard. It is a 'work in progress' that helps each generation keep on top of its most pressing moral dilemmas. The cumulative effect of the individual entries in that standard, creates our current 'civilization' rule book Lest we think we are ahead of the curve as a civilized species, it was only fifty years ago that our collective civilization gave us a Holocaust, a World War and the start of a cold war. [more]

by israel bonan @ 10:56 AM CST [Link]

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

The Middle East peace program for the rest of us

February 24 was the start of something big, a peace program for the rest of us. The plans hatched in secret in Oslo and Geneva and Washington have all come to naught. The roadmap has gotten to a washed out bridge. The Geneva accord is still a paper and still incomplete, and hasn't garnered the support of large segments of the Israeli or Palestinian population. [more]

by Moderator @ 11:01 PM CST [Link]

Monday, February 23, 2004

Inside Libya's nuclear program

They've done it again. The Federation of American Scientists has gotten ahold of an as-yet-unreleased International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report. You can see a good PDF copy of "Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement of the Sodeletedt People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya," dated February 20, 2004, here.

The report offers a glimpse into a nuclear program in disarray, dependent on foreign expertise and equipment. The Libyans did have access to that expertise and equipment, for a price, but failed to make the best use of it, for which their neighbors may be thankful.

It also points to two uncomfortable issues, not much commented on in the press so far. One is Libya's access to a global "gray" market in uranium. The other is Libyan experimentation with a new generation of missiles. We should not assume that either issue is confined to Libya's shores. For exposing these issues to the light of day, the entire world may be thankful.


by Analyst @ 10:06 PM CST [Link]

The fence and the bombs: Rage and Reconciliation

As the International Court of Justice in the Hague opened its hearings on the Israeli Security barrier, Yasser Arafat declared February 23 as a day of rageover the Israeli Apartheid imperialist warmonger rotten Wall, and the Israeli Terror Survivors declared a day of rage, more or less, over the rotten nogood Palestinian Jihadist terrorists.

by Moderator @ 02:14 PM CST [Link]

Sunday, February 22, 2004

The unmaking of U.S. foreign policy

Who really cares about foreign policy? In Washington, whatever happens in Iraq is treated as secondary to the outcome of the elections in November. Or so I've just said.

Save the word "Iraq," there is nothing new about this lament. In 1984, veteran Democratic foreign policy hands I.M. (Mac) Destler, Leslie Gelb, and Anthony Lake surveyed two decades' worth of policy wreckage in a book they pungently titled Our Own Worst Enemy: The Unmaking of American Foreign Policy. Its continuing relevance almost seems to demand a revised and updated edition.


by Analyst @ 08:17 PM CST [Link]

Saad Eddin Ibrahim - Speaking out for Democracy

Saad Eddin Ibrahim was jailed by Egyptian authorities for blowing the whistle on election fraud, and sentenced to seven years in prison. Thanks to an international effort and pressure from the USA, Dr. Ibrahim was freed and is now touring the USA, speaking out for democracy. I was gratified to get the letter below from a friend. [more]

by Moderator @ 01:34 PM CST [Link]

Suicide Bombing: Between the "Fence" and the Fanatics

Tomorrow, the International Court of Justice at the Hague will begin hearings about the Israeli security "fence." Today, there was a reminder of what it is all about. The reminder came from Yasser Arafat's Fateh Al-Aqsa brigades, in the form of a suicide bombing on the Number 14a bus in Jerusalem. Seven people were killed (thus far) and perhaps 44 were wounded. [more]

by Moderator @ 01:31 PM CST [Link]

How low are the stakes in Iraq?

How low are the stakes in Iraq? The usual way of putting the question is, "how high," not how low, and everyone seems to agree that the answer is "very high." (Even I've made this claim in the past. See here to read about the Intelligence Community's opinion.)

But when we look at how a great many American politicians and policy wonks are acting, as opposed to what they are saying, it doesn't look like anyone really thinks that the outcome matters much.


by Analyst @ 09:21 AM CST [Link]

Saturday, February 21, 2004

Iran: The end of Free - for now

Those who like to watch rigged wrestling matches on television probably got a kick out of the "great struggle" between reformists and conservatives in Iran that has been going on for several years, played out in successive bouts. Friday, they played what was probably the decisive bout. No doubt about it. The fellow in the white trunks took a beating from the Mullah the Mauler from Qom. The bad guys won this time. [more]

by Moderator @ 02:54 PM CST [Link]

Friday, February 20, 2004

Palestinian Education: What is the lesson?

Is the Palestinian Authority teaching kids to hate? And if so, are they really learning to hate? And if so, what lessons should we draw from it? [more]

by Moderator @ 07:42 PM CST [Link]

America in Iraq: A New Future for the Middle East?

I have a startling announcement. The WMD that caused the war in Iraq have been found! In fact the Americans had already found it even before their troops go searching in the Iraqi desert. The WMD I am talking about is not biological, chemical or nuclear; it is human! Was it biological, chemical or, Heaven forbid, nuclear, the weapon that killed three thousand civilian Americans in New York in a couple of minutes? Weren't they human bombs made of humans who belong to “friendly states”?

by Dr Mohamed Mosaad @ 04:48 PM CST [Link]

Find Iraqi WMD, earn $$$ -- maybe

Life imitates art, and occasionally it chases after satire as well. About half a year ago, some wise guy suggested, in not so many words, that if the U.S. government were really so concerned about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, they might have put a price on their (war)heads, just as they did for Saddam & Sons.

Priorities, priorities. Oh well. Now that Saddam is in the pokey, reality seems to have caught up with the joke.


by Analyst @ 05:35 AM CST [Link]

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Mel Gibson's Passion, Take 1: The Simpsons

I didn't think it was the best idea to give Mel Gibson's Passion yet more space, but since everyone else is doing it, and making a great big deal out of this film, what the heck! So here is Take 1, in a lighter vein. It's an episode from our favorite cartoon family drama, the Simpsons. It won't be the first time the Simpsons show is involved with Mel Gibson either.

by Moderator @ 11:35 AM CST [Link]

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Islam and the Concept of Martyrdom

Suicide bombing in Islam? Just say "No" argues Amina from Lebanon.

There is a need for every believing Muslim to 'strive', or engage in spiritual Jihad, to understand the word and will of God and to live accordingly. Failure to engage in that Jihad makes our responses in times of crises mere reflexes based on what we are told (traditions) rather than the result of rational (yes, I believe one can be rational in his/her approach to understanding the written word of God) and independent thinking that is grounded in evidence from the Qur'an, the most authoritative religious book for Muslims. [more]

by Amina @ 10:51 AM CST [Link]

Sunday, February 15, 2004

Axis of Evil, version 2.0

Who could forget "the Axis of Evil"? That ringing and controversial phrase from President George W. Bush's January 2002 State of the Union Address set the stage for the war in Iraq that commenced in March 2003 and continues still. The "axis" meant Iran, Iraq, North Korea, and their "terrorist allies."

The confrontation with the first Axis hasn't gone as well as planned. So, in the grand tradition of modest proposals, I would like to nominate a new tripartite Axis of Evil to replace the old one. It consists of Pakistan, Germany, Malaysia, and their terrorist allies. The old Axis will be offered early retirement, and perhaps an estate or two on the French Riveria.


by Analyst @ 06:18 AM CST [Link]

Friday, February 13, 2004

Bread: Israelis versus the Sharon Government

Ariel Sharon may be the number 1 bogeyman of the Arab world, but lately he is not too popular in Israel. Though chaos may reign in the Palestinian authority as disgruntled Fatah officials resign and rumors of yet more corruption surface, all is not tranquility and prosperity in Israel either. The onset of the Palestinian violence (so called "Intifada") and the world recession coincided to produce one of the worst economic crises in Israel's history. [more]

by Moderator @ 07:05 PM CST [Link]

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Iraq: Fighting for Truth, Justice and the Islamic Way

Those of us who thought that the USA is fighting for secular democracy in Iraq and religious freedom, may be in for a bit of a surprise. The draft Iraqi constitution, proposed by the American backed Coalistion Provisional Authority, contains a provision that is not at all unusual in Arab countries, but which is bound to raise some eyebrows in the West: establishment of Islam as the state religion of Iraq.

by Moderator @ 07:36 PM CST [Link]

Keeping tabs on the "second-oldest profession"

Secrecy News, an email publication of the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), today offers a clever take on historical antecedents for the Iraq intelligence probe.


by Analyst @ 12:45 AM CST [Link]

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Suicide Bombings - Did the EU get what it paid for ?

Continental Europeans competing with George Bush and Tony Blair's WMD muck-up in Iraq have a fiasco of their own to make them proud. Evidence is mounting that EU funds were used to pay for suicide bombings in Israel, instigated by Yasser Arafat and the PLO.


by Moderator @ 04:45 PM CST [Link]

The NIC in the Middle East, continued

I didn't plan to return to this subject so soon, but just stumbled across the prepared text (here, in PDF format) of an April 2003 presentation by Robert L. Hutchings, the chairman of the National Intelligence Council (NIC), speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington. The NIC is a sort of think tank that serves the Director of Central Intelligence.

Infelicitiously titled "The World After Iraq," the paper offers Hutchings' "own take" on the findings of a half-day conference devoted to that rather large topic. "It is," Hutchings writes, "the kind of thing the NIC does well, bringing a diverse group of senior experts together to look over the horizon at a focused agenda of critical issues."

Let's have a look at Hutchings' thoughts on the Middle East "after Iraq" and see for ourselves if the NIC performed as advertised.


by Analyst @ 07:27 AM CST [Link]

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Saudi Arabia: American policy impaled on the horns of a dilemma

Which is the most important country in the Middle East? Probably it is Saudi Arabia, the birthplace and center of Islam, as well as the birthplace of the Arab revolt against the Ottoman empire. For the USA, it is certainly Saudi Arabia and the surrounding oil-rich Gulf states. Saudi Arabia has one third of the worlds proven oil reserves. This oil is cheap to extract, at a dollar a barrel, it can easily compete with US oil which costs $10 to $12 dollars, and Russian oil, which costs up to $18 dollars a barrel to extract. The US and Saudi Arabia have long been bound together in a close if sometimes uncomfortable relationship


by Moderator @ 03:17 PM CST [Link]

Monday, February 9, 2004

The Israeli Security Barrier and the Chicago Tribune

Op Eds in The Chicago Tribune make the same old false charges about the Camp David negotiations, this time to justify the current path of the Israeli Fence (security barrier, wall), says Chicago Peace Now president Gidon (Doni) Remba.

The Chicago Tribune has published two pro-fence opinion pieces in this weekend's Perspective section, one by correspondent Ron Grossman , the other by Israel's Midwest Consul General Moshe Ram. While both articles make many good points that I and Peace Now would agree with, they also contain a number of serious errors and misrepresentations, which amount to a great whitewash, especially in Ron Grossman's piece.


by doniremba @ 10:26 AM CST [Link]

Facing "enlightened" racism

One of the dilemmas of writing a blog that invites reader comments is that you may sometimes receive comments that do not address your views one way or the other, but go off in other directions, and run at cross-purposes to the enterprise of the weblog itself. How much time does anyone want to spend policing a website, anyway?

The occasional stray comment that's unrelated to the contents of a blog entry is inevitable and probably not worth anyone's concern. Worse is a de facto re-purposing of the comments section -- through either lengthy or multiple posts -- as a soapbox for other people's miscellaneous rants, a sort of free-rider blogging. (Get your own, folks!)

And worse yet is a "re-purposing" that turns MidEastWeb into a forum for racist diatribes. What follows is a description of two recent encounters with comment board abuse. It's meant to suggest how this blogger, at least, will respond to future outbursts. Your comments are, of course, welcome...


by Analyst @ 01:01 AM CST [Link]

Sunday, February 8, 2004

Ha'aretz: No Compassion for the evil ones

Compassion is the mantra of a certain sector of the Israel and Jewish left. A Compassionate Listening project insists that we must have compassion for everyone in order to make peace. A laudable idea. Yitzhak Frankenthal, a wonderful human being and founder of the Bereaved Parents' Circle, has compassion for the Hamas 'freedom fighter' who killed his son. A wonderful idea in the best tradition of Semitic culture, though not exactly according to the dictates of eye-for-an-eye and tooth-for-a-tooth jurisprudence. Not everyone, however, deserves compassion it seems. [more]

by Moderator @ 05:01 PM CST [Link]

Unilateral evacuation - the consequences of the inevitable

Sooner or later, it was inevitable that Israel would have to get divorced from the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and begin the end of the romance or crazy nightmare of Greater Israel. If we would not do it willingly, we would be forced out.


by Moderator @ 05:00 PM CST [Link]

Palestinians: Fenced into Limbo - Gidon Remba

Until reading the article in the Jerusalem Report ("Zoned Out") (see below), and David Makovksy's forthcoming article in the March-April issue of Foreign Affairs "How to Build a Fence," I had accepted at face value B'Tselem's claim that the fence as it is now being built by Israel, will annex about 100,000 Palestinians to the Israeli side in enclaves between the fence and the Green Line. [more]

by doniremba @ 02:44 PM CST [Link]

Friday, February 6, 2004

Attention Bloggers and others - Help wanted for Human Rights case (Espagnol, Português)

I have written many times about the case of Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury, the Bangladesh journalist jailed for speaking out about extremism and for wanting to establish dialog with Israel. We need the help of concerned individuals, rights organizations and governments, to get him out of jail. We need the help of bloggers too. Web log campaigns have helped free people in Salah's position in the Middle East. We need every one of you to do your bit. If you are on the Web somewhere, you could be next after Salah.

by Moderator @ 06:00 PM CST [Link]

Monday, February 2, 2004

Israel's bum deal with Hizbollah

I could not bring myself to comment last week about the Hizbollah prisoner exchange, during the state-generated "festivities." A person at a funeral who points out that the hearse is dusty and the coffin is dented is guilty of grotesque bad taste.


by Moderator @ 06:09 PM CST [Link]

Intelligence analysts predict Iraq's "negative consequences"

One of the signature features of America's poorly examined Iraq policy -- and, yes, yet another unfortunate parallel with the Vietnam experience -- has been a general lack of willingness to think carefully about the stakes. Just as the consequences of inaction were vastly overblown before the war was launched (remember that looming mushroom cloud?), now the as-yet-unknown consequences of failure -- defined as any outcome other than the one considered virtuous by the administration -- are simply presumed to be unacceptably grave.


by Analyst @ 09:38 AM CST [Link]

Sunday, February 1, 2004

Iraq after the handover

After my long-winded explanation of why I think the powers of the Coalition Provisional Authority should be expanded (here), along comes a well-informed reader to throw cold water on this notion. As Eric points out (click here and scroll down), the CPA's mandate expires this summer, when the administration plans to restore sovereignty to Iraq. My proposal isn't moot simply because it's not this administration's style to consider creative solutions -- it's moot because they've already settled on the opposite course of action.

So, absent any dramatic changes of course, what sort of outcome can we expect?


by Analyst @ 11:01 PM CST [Link]

Organizing the use of force in Iraq

The United States is currently engaged in what is advertised as its largest movement of troops since the Second World War -- the rotation of Army forces into and out of Iraq. When the rotation is complete, about 105,000 soldiers will be in Iraq, down from the present 130,000 or so, but still much more than U.S. decisionmakers had hoped or planned for by this time.

The stress of the long-term occupation of Iraq has led the Pentagon, with the greatest of reluctance, to expand the size of the Army over the next few years. This means, perversely enough, that we are building up in order to be able to pull out more slowly. Force levels are too high to be sustained indefinitely. But they must be kept relatively high for as long as possible, because our objectives remain unachieved. (The cynical would say that this is merely a way of deferring impending failure to a less politically sensitive moment.)

So what do we expect to get from the extended presence of American and coalition partner soldiers in Iraq? How can they best contribute to our political goals (discussed here and here)? Is there any hope to break out of the trap we're caught in?


by Analyst @ 09:08 AM CST [Link]


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