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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Iraq: You broke it, you bought it, so what now?

In analyzing Joseph Lieberman's loss and its meaning for the US Democratic party, Fred Noyes, writing at CIPS, has hit on the major US policy dilemma regarding Iraq. As he reminds us, Tom Friedman noted about Iraq, "If you break it -- you buy it." The US certainly broke it, and they certainly bought it, at a very high price too.

Noyes gives what he believes ought to be the Democrats' stand on Iraq:

"We will stay the course, because we have no other choice. We will train Iraqi troops to secure their own territory, and hope that they are up to the task. We will continue to expose our troops to danger, because it is the only way to keep a great mistake from turning into an uncontainable disaster. You should vote for us – not because it will change anything on the ground, but because democracy cannot work unless the party in power is held accountable for its mistakes. This is Bush's war -- he should not be rewarded simply because the situation he created is so incredibly hazardous that there is no safe way out."

That is not necessarily the case. [more]

by Moderator @ 03:39 PM CST [Link]

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Israeli-Palestinian Dialogue and Why it Isn't Working

Recently two friends came to visit Israel from abroad. One asked a question, and the other may have answered it in part. One visitor is a student from California is comparing the role of dialuge in the conflict in Northern Ireland with that in Israel. In Ireland, dialogue between politicians, and between communities seems to have succeeded. Between Israelis and Palestinians it has not.

Differences of language and culture between Jews and Arab Palestinians are much greater than those between factions in Northern Ireland, but instinct tells us that something else is wrong. Something is not working in these dialogue efforts, because we have not been able to get ordinary people, who represent their societies, involved. Instead, "dialogue" seems to have become a pursuit of a self-selected few.

Ratna Palle visited from Holland and met members of the Family Forum (or Parents Circle) group. Her impressions provide, in part an answer to why dialogue is not working between Israelis and Palestinians, and within Israeli society.

by Moderator @ 07:47 PM CST [Link]

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Muslims and Israel: Moshe Sharon's War against Civilization

Crusades against reason are not limited to one side in the Middle East conflict unfortunately. Recently, "terrorism expert" Moshe Sharon was quoted by Arutz 7 (the Setters' Web site) as having these opinions:

The veteran expert on Islam says that Western officials fail to grasp that the Arab and Islamic world truly see Israel’s establishment as a "reversal of history" and are therefore unable to ever accept peaceful relations with it. From Moslems’ perspective, "Islamic territory was taken away from Islam by Jews. You know by now that this can never be accepted, not even one meter. So everyone who thinks Tel Aviv is safe is making a grave mistake. Territory which at one time was dominated by Islamic rule, now has become non-Moslem. Non-Moslems are independent of Islamic rule and Jews have created their own independent state. It is anathema. Worse, Israel, a non-Moslem state, is ruling over Moslems. It is unthinkable that non-Moslems should rule over Moslems."

Sharon dismissed various peace treaties signed by Moslem and Arab officials over the years as "pieces of paper, parts of tactics and strategies… with no meaning."


"The difference between Judaism, Christianity and Islam is as follows: Judaism speaks about national salvation - namely, that at the end of the story, when the world becomes a better place, Israel will be in its own land, ruled by its own king and serving G-d. Christianity speaks about the idea that every single person in the world can be saved from his sins, while Islam speaks about ruling the world. I can quote here in Arabic, but there is no point in quoting Arabic, so let me quote a verse in English: 'Allah sent Mohammed with the true religion so that it should rule over all the religions.'"

(from http://www.israelnn.com/news.php3?id=112066 )

by Moderator @ 05:06 PM CST [Link]

Friday, September 22, 2006

Byzantine background of the Pope's remark about Islam

After I wrote about the anti-Pope* controversy stirred by the supposed anti-Islam remarks of the Pope, a reader who is a Byzantine scholar graciously supplied the background below about the Byzantine Emperor, Manuel II Paleologus.


by Moderator @ 03:40 PM CST [Link]

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Pope and the Imams: The end of Moderate Islam?

Once again, the Middle East has been in an uproar over something that someone in the West said about Islam. Last time it was Danish cartoons of Muhamed that caused rioting and a wave of hate. This time it is remarks of Pope Benedict quoting Emperor Manuel II Paleologus.

The most frightening aspect of the new controversy is not the violence itself, but the lessons it holds for the future. Moderate opinion in the Middle East is the hope of all those who wish to see an end to radicalism and intolerance and the construction of liberal societies that can bring the Middle East into the 21st century on its own terms. Instead, moderate opinion has joined the fanatics in condoning wanton hooliganism and pogroms against Christians, and has devised a rather transparent litany to excuse its defection.

We should begin by understanding what the Pope said, and the context in which he said it, and we must also understand the context of the Emperor's words. We bring an extended excerpt of the speech. It was not directly about Islam, but rather about use of reason rather than coercion in discussing matters of faith. Was Benedict really discussing Islam in a roundabout way? Perhaps. [more]

by Moderator @ 02:28 PM CST [Link]

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Palestinian Unity: peace opportunity or mirage?

A confluence of events has created what might be an opportunity for peace -- or a dangerous mirage.

The most interesting aspect of this opportunity is perhaps on the Israeli side, and may overturn the conventional wisdom that insists that the Gaza disengagement, from the Israeli point of view was a disaster.

When the Oslo accords were signed in 1993, Israeli politicians assured the public that if problems developed, Israel could reverse the situation by military action. People believed that it was worthwhile to "take risks for peace." As it turned out, the situation is seemingly irreversible. The Palestine Authority government that was supposedly elected to make peace with Israel became progressively more inimical to peace, until finally, at the insistence of the US, the Hamas were allowed to participate in elections and they took over leadership of the Palestinian Authority. It is no secret that the Hamas do not want peace, as they say so themselves. Israel found however, that it was faced with a fait accompli in the Palestinian Authority and could do very little in fact to reverse the situation.

by Moderator @ 01:41 AM CST [Link]

Monday, September 11, 2006

The dumbest 9-11 Op-Ed?

The fifth anniversary of the 9-11 terror attacks produced, as expected, a huge crop of 9-11 op-eds, each using the attacks to prove the favorite point of the authors. Some were worse than others.

In Jordan Times, Gwynne Dyer wrote::

the terrorist attack on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, was a low-probability event that could just as easily not have happened. The often careless and sometimes incompetent hijackers might have been caught before boarding those planes, and there were not ten other plots of similar magnitude stacked up behind them.

Dyer uses this absurd proposition to develop the thesis that the war on terror is just an excuse cooked up by the great powers to bury their differences and gang up on Islam. According to him, 9-11 happened more or less by chance and initiated a chain of events, such as the bombings in Bali and Madrid.

by Moderator @ 05:02 PM CST [Link]

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Pro-Palestinian Jews and peace

I recently received a letter from Richard Melson, inviting "pro-Palestinian Jews" to view his Web site.

I support peace with our Arab neighbors including Arab Palestinians. Everyone who knows me knows that - it is no secret, just as it should be no secret by now that I am a Zionist, and nonetheless cannot find any horns or tail attached to me, and do not plot secretly to take over the economy of the world.

All Zionists must support peace because Israel cannot survive in the long run without peace, and because all people of any persuasion should be for peace. Likewise it seem to me that anyone who supports Palestinians must support peace too. Only a few evil people benefit from carnage, chaos and hate. That is elementary, I think.

However, when I visited Mr. Melton's Web site I did not see writings that support peace or Palestinians really. I did see an Israeli flag and a Palestinian flag. However, I also saw writings about "Zionomics," articles that seem to identify globalization with Zionism (funny, a lot of anti-Zionists condemn it because it is nationalistic!) and other writings critical of Zionism. If supporting my own people is somehow incompatible with supporting Palestinians, then of course I could not support Palestinians. Jews who support Palestinians in that way are not "Jews" in the ordinary sence of the word.

I didn't see any articles critical of Palestinian nationalism at that Web site. For that matter, I didn't find any articles that had positive things to say about Palestinian nationalism, and the Palestinian people. It has been my privilege to meet and know some wonderful Arab Palestinians who are good neighbors and good friends, gifted artists, generous and kind, people who work hard for peace. Why not write about them, if you are "pro-Palestinian"?

As a person who has been passionately concerned to advance dialogue and peace education, I am concerned about such "pro-Palestinian Jews." Jews who are a small minority that denies their own heritage and the rights of the Jewish people, do not help peace or dialogue. They can ruin dialogue by misrepresenting the views of most Jews. It is futile and deceptive to carry out "dialogue" with people who represent a tiny minority opposed to the will of the majority, because we must ultimately reach the majority of the people in both peoples if we want to make peace.

I was moved to write the letter below to Mr. Melton, and others.

by Moderator @ 06:42 PM CST [Link]

Hezbollah's Victory: Reigniting the "Evil Hope"

Whether the outcome of the recent war in Lebanon was a Hezbollah non-victory is of little consequence. This title fight is not over as long as both sides are still standing, albeit bloodied. It seems that only the proponents of moderation and reform in the Arab world are "down for the count," as the Arab street is once again captivated by what Barry Rubin (Jerusalem Post) described as the "evil hope: the possibility of militarily destroying Israel.


This delusion has never completely lost popular support, but for most, it has simply faded to a distant dream. Since Israel is going to exist with or without official recognition, why not conduct business deals and even interview Israelis on satellite television? These were positive developments accomplished in recent years, by pragmatic moderates who were not so much interested in peace with Israel, as in making accommodations for their own sakes.


by Moderator @ 02:16 PM CST [Link]

Saturday, September 9, 2006

Redefining our goals and problems instead of investigations and resignations

We have to try and identify the essential from the less important, in the endless discussions that have permeated Israel since the war in Lebanon ended. Otherwise we will soon fail in more unsuccessful wars, endless internal struggles or even witness the establishment of a fascist regime. I prefer a courageous public debate which would redefine and try to create a wide support for the essential goals and the ways to achieve them, instead of going into a long period of investigation committees, resignations, and new elections. The latter will only create more havoc, at a time in which we are facing serious threats, internally and externally.

by Moderator @ 10:56 AM CST [Link]

Sunday, September 3, 2006

Unclear Iranian Nuclear Weapons Policy

Little has changed since I wrote about the unclear world response to Iran's nuclear development program last May, except that the Iranians continue to enrich uranium, continue to operationalize their heavy water reactor, and everyone else seems to dither about making speeches. Events took place and UN issues were resolved, and speeches were made, but in fact everything continues according to the same trajectory and with the same actors repeating the same lines. [more]

by Moderator @ 06:10 PM CST [Link]


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