The American Kafir

2010/06/23

IDF draws up new Gaza war doctrine

Filed under: Gaza, Hamas, Hizbullah, Israel, Muslim Brotherhood — - @ 3:49 pm

Source: J Post

Print  Edition

Photo by: kobi gideon

IDF draws up new Gaza war doctrine

By YAAKOV KATZ

Exclusive: In future, military will slow down initial operations.

Ahead of a potential new conflict with Hamas in the Gaza Strip, the IDF has drawn up plans to evacuate entire Palestinian villages and refugee camps from areas of conflict in the event of an Israeli incursion, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

During Operation Cast Lead, in the winter of 2008/2009, the IDF dropped millions of flyers over areas it planned to invade and made over a quarter of a million phone calls to private homes and mobile phones warning people to leave.

The new plans draw on some of the experiences from Cast Lead, and are also being viewed in the IDF as part of the military’s lessons from the Goldstone Report, which harshly criticized Israel and the way it operated within urban areas.

While the army is drawing up plans, current assessments in the military are that Hamas is not interested in instigating a new conflict with Israel.

Last month, the Post revealed that the IDF had prepared, for the first time, an operational doctrine on how forces should operate when fighting within areas populated by civilians. The new doctrine was authored by the Concepts and Doctrine Section of the IDF Ground Forces Command, and was approved by OC Ground Forces Command Maj.-Gen. Sami Turgeman earlier this month.

The Goldstone Report accused the IDF of having committed war crimes during Cast Lead. The IDF recently completed a 1,000-page document deconstructing the allegations piece by piece, and lawyers in various governmental bodies are now going over the text of the document before releasing it to the public.

According to the new operational doctrine for the Gaza Strip, ahead of an invasion of the Jabalya refugee camp in a large-scale operation, for example, the IDF would give prior notification to residents and designate an amount of time they would be given to leave. The IDF would also enter potential conflict zones more slowly to permit residents to evacuate the area.

Defense officials said that consideration of the new plans did not mean the military had operated wrongly during Cast Lead.

Hamas has also made changes to its operational plans. Overall, while it believes its defensive plans – which included roadside bombs, booby-trapped homes and dozens of kilometers of tunnels and trenches – were correct, they were not sufficiently effective during Cast Lead, as commanders were inexperienced.

Since Cast Lead, Hamas has replaced several of its senior brigade and battalion commanders, and has clearly defined each one’s specific area of responsibilities so it will be clear, as it apparently was not during Cast Lead, which commander is to operate in which area.

In a related matter, Military Advocate-General Maj.-Gen. Avichai Mandelblit held a hearing on Tuesday for a soldier from the Givati Brigade suspected of having opened fire at a group of civilians during Cast Lead and killing two women. Mandelblit held the hearing before deciding whether to press charges. IDF sources have said there was significant evidence against the soldier and that it could lead to manslaughter charges.

Saudi convicts 15 men, women for mingling at party

Source:Associated Press

Saudi convicts 15 men, women for mingling at party

By ABDULLAH AL-SHIHRI (AP)

RIYADH — Judicial officials say a Saudi court has convicted four women and 11 men for mingling at a party and sentenced them to flogging and prison terms.

The men, who are between 30 and 40 years old, and three of the women, who are under the age of 30, were sentenced to an unspecified number of lashes and one or two year prison terms each.

The fourth woman, a minor, was sentenced to 80 lashes and was not sent to prison.

The ruling was handed down on Tuesday at a court in the northern town of Ha’il.

The officials say the police saw the group partying until dawn last month. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to talk to the media.

Saudi Arabia follows a strict interpretation of Islam that prohibits unrelated men and women from mingling.

Iran issues warning to 62,000 ‘badly veiled’ women

Source:AFP

By law, women in Iran must be covered from head to foot, with their hair completely veiled

Iran issues warning to 62,000 ‘badly veiled’ women

(AFP) – 2 days ago

TEHRAN — Iranian police have issued warnings to 62,000 women who were “badly veiled” in the Shiite holy province of Qom as part of a clampdown on dress and behaviour, a newspaper said on Monday.

Around “62,000 women were warned for being badly veiled” in the province of Qom, Tehran Emrouz newspaper quoted provincial police chief Colonel Mehdi Khorasani as saying.

It was unclear whether all the women issued with warnings were from Qom or the tally included travellers passing through the province.

Khorasani said police had also confiscated around 100 cars for carrying improperly dressed women, adding that “encouraging such relaxations are among the objectives of the enemy.”

The newspaper did not say during which period the warnings were issued.

The population of Qom is more than one million, with most of them concentrated in the city itself which is Shiite Iran’s clerical nerve-centre.

By law, women in the Islamic republic must be covered from head to foot, with their hair completely veiled, and social interaction is banned between men and women who are not related.

Iran is known particularly for summer-time crackdowns on improperly dressed women but the issue has sparked debate after hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said he “firmly” opposed the clampdown.

In a televised interview earlier this month, he said he was “firmly against such actions. It is impossible for such actions to be successful.”

His remarks have drawn the wrath of fellow hardliners and several top clerics who have criticised him for opposing the police crackdown.

Iran’s morality police have returned to the streets in past weeks, confiscating cars whose male drivers harass women, local media say, without clarifying what amounts to harassment.

The reports say the police or hardline militiamen have been stopping cars with young men or women inside to question their relationship.

The Islamic dress code for women is also being more strictly enforced.

Iran Policy in the Aftermath of UN Sanctions

Source: US State Department

Iran Policy in the Aftermath of UN Sanctions

William J. Burns
Under Secretary for Political Affairs
Statement before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Washington, DC
June 22, 2010

Chairman Kerry, Senator Lugar, Members of the Committee: Thank you very much for the opportunity to appear before you today.

The passage of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1929 two weeks ago establishes the most comprehensive international sanctions that the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran has ever faced. It reinforces the determination not only of the United States, but of the rest of the international community, to hold Iran to its international obligations, and to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons. At this critical moment, as we vigorously implement resolution 1929 and use it as a platform on which to build further measures by the European Union and other partners, it’s important to take stock of what’s at stake and where we go from here.

Let me start with the obvious: a nuclear-armed Iran would severely threaten the security and stability of a part of the world crucial to our interests and to the health of the global economy. It would seriously undermine the credibility of the United Nations and other international institutions, and seriously undercut the nuclear non-proliferation regime at precisely the moment we are seeking to strengthen it. These risks are only reinforced by the wider actions of the Iranian leadership, particularly its longstanding support for terrorist groups; its opposition to Middle East peace; its repugnant rhetoric about Israel, the Holocaust, and so much else; and its brutal repression of its own citizens.

In the face of those challenges, American policy is straightforward. We must prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. We must counter its other destabilizing actions in the region and beyond. And we must continue to do all we can to advance our broader interests in democracy, human rights and development across the Middle East. President Obama has made clear repeatedly, including in his statement on the adoption of resolution 1929, that we will stand up for those rights that should be universal to all human beings, and stand with those brave Iranians who seek only to express themselves freely and peacefully.

We will also continue to call on Iran to release immediately Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd, and Josh Fattal, and all other unjustly detained American citizens. And we continue to call upon Iran to determine the whereabouts and ensure the safe return of Robert Levinson.

We have pursued our broad policy goals over the past 18 months through a combination of tough-minded diplomacy – including both engagement and pressure – and active security cooperation with our partners in the Gulf and elsewhere. We have sought to sharpen the choices before the Iranian leadership. We have sought to demonstrate what’s possible if Iran meets its international obligations and adheres to the same responsibilities that apply to other nations. And we have sought to intensify the costs of continued defiance, and to show Iran that pursuit of a nuclear weapons program will make it less secure, not more secure.

Last year, we embarked on an unprecedented effort at engagement with Iran. We did so without illusions about whom we were dealing with, or the scope of our differences over the past thirty years. Engagement has been both a test of Iranian intentions, and an investment in partnership with a growing coalition of countries deeply concerned about Iran’s nuclear ambitions. We sought to create early opportunities for Iran to build confidence in its intentions. In Geneva last October, we supported — along with Russia and France — a creative proposal by the International Atomic Energy Agency to provide fuel for the production of medical isotopes at the Tehran Research Reactor. Unfortunately, what appeared to be a constructive beginning in Geneva was later spurned by the Iranian leadership. Instead, Iran pursued a clandestine enrichment facility near Qom; announced plans for ten new enrichment facilities; flatly refused to continue discussions with the P5+1 about international concerns about its nuclear program; provocatively expanded enrichment to 20%, in further violation of UN Security Council resolutions; and drew new rebukes from the IAEA in the Director General’s most recent report a few weeks ago.

Iran’s intransigence left us no choice but to employ a second tool of diplomacy, economic and political pressure. Passage of resolution 1929 is the essential first step in that effort. The provisions of 1929 go well beyond previous sanctions resolutions. For the first time, it bans significant transfers of conventional weapons to Iran. For the first time, 1929 bans all Iranian activities related to ballistic missiles that could deliver a nuclear weapon. For the first time, it imposes a tough framework of cargo inspections to detect and stop Iran’s smuggling and acquisition of nuclear materials or other illicit items. It prohibits Iran from investing abroad in sensitive nuclear activities, such as uranium mining. It creates important new tools to help block Iran’s use of the international financial system to fund and facilitate nuclear proliferation. For the first time, it highlights formally potential links between Iran’s energy sector and its nuclear ambitions. And it targets directly the role of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in Iran’s proliferation efforts, adding fifteen specific IRGC entities to the list of designations for asset freezes.

Resolution 1929 provides a valuable new platform, and valuable new tools. Now we need to make maximum use of them. My colleague, Bob Einhorn, will lead this effort for the State Department. He’ll work closely with Under Secretary Levey, whose own leadership on these issues for a number of years has been extraordinarily effective. Already, the European Union has acted strongly to follow up 1929. Its leaders decided last Thursday to take a series of significant steps, including a prohibition of new investment in the energy sector and bans on the transfer of key technology, and tough measures against Iranian banks and correspondent banking relationships. Australia has indicated similar resolve, and other partners will follow suit shortly. Meanwhile, as Stuart will discuss in more detail, we continue to have success in persuading a whole variety of foreign companies that the risks of further involvement in Iran far outweigh the benefits. As you know, the Administration has been working closely with the Congress to help shape pending legislation so that it maximizes the impact of the wider international sanctions that we are putting in place.

The net result of this combination of economic pressures is hard to predict. It will certainly not change the calculations of the Iranian leadership overnight, nor is it a panacea. But it is a mark of their potential effect that Iran has worked so hard in recent months to avert action in the Security Council, and tried so hard to deflect or divert the steps that are now underway. Iran is not ten feet tall, and its economy is badly mismanaged. Beneath all their bluster and defiant rhetoric, its leaders understand that both the practical impact of resolution 1929 and its broader message of isolation create real problems for them.

That is particularly true at a moment when the Iranian leadership has ruthlessly suppressed, but not eliminated, the simmering discontent that bubbled over so dramatically last summer. Millions of Iranians went to the streets last June, and in smaller numbers over the course of the ensuing months, with a simple but powerful demand of their leaders: that their government respect the rights enshrined within its own constitution, rights that are the entitlement of all people – to voice their opinions, to select their leaders, to assemble without fear, to live in security and peace. A government that does not respect the rights of its own people will find it increasingly difficult to win the respect that it professes to seek in the international community.

Sanctions and pressure are not an end in themselves. They are a complement, not a substitute, for the diplomatic solution to which we and our partners are still committed. We continue to acknowledge Iran’s right to pursue civilian nuclear power. But with that right comes a profound responsibility to reassure the rest of the international community about the exclusively peaceful nature of its intentions. Facts are stubborn things, and it is a striking fact that Iran is the only NPT signatory in the world today that cannot convince the IAEA that its nuclear program is intended for purely peaceful purposes.

The Foreign Ministers of the P5+1 countries made clear in the statement they issued on passage of resolution 1929 that we remain ready to engage with Iran to address these concerns. EU High Representative Ashton has written to her Iranian counterpart to convey this readiness directly. We have joined Russia and France in expressing to IAEA Director General Amano a number of concerns about Iran’s latest proposals on the Tehran Research Reactor, and the TRR remains a potential opportunity in the context of the broader P5+1 efforts to address Iran’s nuclear program. The door is open to serious negotiation, if Iran is prepared to walk through it.

The road ahead will not be easy, and the problems before us posed by Iran’s behavior are urgent. But there is growing international pressure on Iran to live up to its obligations – and growing international isolation for Iran if it does not. Resolution 1929 helps significantly to sharpen that choice. We will work very hard to implement and build upon it. We are absolutely determined to ensure that Iran adheres to the same responsibilities that apply to other nations. Too much is at stake to accept anything less.

Thank you.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

The Return of the Ottomans

Source: Weekly Standard

The Return of the Ottomans

The sick man of Europe is back and causing ­trouble again.

BY Lee Smith
June 28, 2010, Vol. 15, No. 39

Beirut

A few months back, I was dining with a friend at an Armenian restaurant in Beirut, and at the end of the meal he gracefully sidestepped the Turkish question by ordering a “Byzantine” coffee. The waiter laughed grimly. “Aside from coffee and waterpipes,” asked my friend, “what did the Turks leave us? They were here for 500 years, and they didn’t even leave us their language. We speak Arabic, French, and English. No one speaks Turkish. Their most important political institutions were baksheesh and the khazouk.”

Baksheesh is bribery, and the khazouk is a spike driven through its victim’s rectum, which the Ottomans used to terrify locals and deter potential insurgents. The Ottomans were hated here and throughout the Arabic-speaking Middle East, not only by the regional minorities (Christians, Jews, Shia, etc.) but also by their Sunni Arab coreligionists. All felt the heavy yoke of the Sublime Porte.

In the last few weeks, however, half a millennium’s worth of history has been conveniently forgotten, perhaps even forgiven, as Turkey has emerged as a regional power and the guarantor of Arab interests—against Israel, to be sure, but more importantly against Iran.

In truth, the wheels were in motion long before Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government sponsored the Mavi Marmara’s cruise to Gaza, which left nine activists dead after they challenged an Israeli boarding party. Erdogan’s winter 2009 performance at Davos, when he confronted Israeli president Shimon Peres in the wake of the Gaza offensive, made the Turkish Islamist a regional celebrity. And while the Arab masses were thrilled to hear Israel denounced by a Muslim leader—and an ally of the Jewish state no less—the more important work was taking place behind the scenes. After Davos, high-level political sources in Beirut let on that there’d been a meeting in Cairo with President Hosni Mubarak. “The Egyptians are very happy with Erdogan,” said one. “The Turks are trying to take the Palestinian file out of the hands of the Iranians and give it back to the Arabs.”

It’s not yet clear whether Ankara really means to restore the Arabs to their pride of place by handing over a Hamas scrubbed of Iranian influence, or, as is more likely, the Turks simply want to use the Palestinian cause to enhance its own regional credentials, as Tehran has been doing for the last three decades. But the Turkish gambit has induced a lot of willful self-delusion in the Arab states—and amnesia.

Long before Arab nationalism identified Israel and the United States (and before that the European powers) as the enemy, it was the Ottomans who were called to account for everything that was wrong in the Arabic-speaking regions. The Ottomans certainly encouraged Middle East sectarianism: playing up confessional differences, empowering some sects while weakening others, and balancing minorities against each other. Arab nationalism was inspired by Turkish nationalism, but it was a doctrine that asserted Arab independence from the Ottomans. There were no longer Sunni, Shia, Druze, Alawi, etc., only Arabs, unified as one against the outsiders, the colonizers.

The Arab states that had been most directly oppressed by the Sublime Porte—and so those most divided along sectarian lines—were determined to illuminate the evils of Ottoman occupation. No Arab state was more anti-Turkish than Baathist Syria. The Syrian television serials that commonly promote the blood libel and feature other anti-Semitic caricatures at one time also cast Ottomans as villains. Indeed, Damascus went where even Washington fears to tread, producing serials that mention the Armenian genocide. And Syrian anti-Turkish sentiment wasn’t only about past affronts. Just as Damascus demands that Israel return the Golan Heights, there is a significant land dispute at the center of Syrian-Turkish relations. In 1939, the Turks conquered what is today known as Hatay province, but the Syrians call Iskenderun or Alexandretta, and which Damascus long claimed was occupied land. In 2005, the Syrians quietly relinquished their claims and thus opened a new chapter in the history of their two countries—which included a 1998 conflict in which Turkey was poised to invade its Arab neighbor until Hafez al-Assad handed over Kurdish separatist leader Abdullah Ocalan.

Today, Hafez’s son Bashar likes to speak of Turkey and Syria’s shared history, explaining that “Arab and Turkish blood is one blood across history”—a phrase that unintentionally resonates with historical pathos. Syrians after all are often disparagingly called Tamerlane’s bastards, a reference to the trail of destruction and sexual violence that the Turkic conqueror left in his wake. Presumably, today’s Turks are of a much kinder disposition, and Damascus has both an Iranian ally and a government in Ankara that is wooing it—or at least this is how the Syrians are playing it publicly.

Erdogan’s invitation to Hezbollah’s secretary general to visit Ankara certainly reinforces the fear that what we’re watching is the formation of a united resistance front, with Turkey signing on to the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah-Hamas alliance. But this may well turn out, eventually anyway, to be a revival of the historic rivalry between the Turks and the Persians. The problem is not just that their competition is likely to further radicalize the political culture of an already volatile region, but that subsidiary actors will be forced to prove their bona fides as well. It will drag in the Jordanians. And what about the Egyptians, who are on the verge of a very delicate succession issue as the 83-year-old Mubarak’s days are numbered and no one knows if his son Gamal will indeed be able to replace him?

Syria is about the only player whose actions can be gamed with any accuracy. The country right now considers itself Hamas’s interlocutor, which is precisely the role that Erdogan auditioned for with the cruise of the Mavi Marmara. Should Europe, or at some point the United States, accept Turkish mediation, it will knock Syria down a peg, which will then feel obligated to assert itself. Perhaps the best way to understand Syria’s recent shipment of Scuds to Hezbollah is as a reminder to everyone that attention must be paid to Damascus as well as Tehran, that when it comes to Hezbollah, Assad also has a vote in war or peace with Israel. Turkish-Iranian competition will entail accelerated Syrian activity on two of Israel’s borders.

Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, Iran’s neighbors across the water, see the recent events in starker terms. Ankara’s shot across Tehran’s bow is a good thing, period. As Abdul Rahman al-Rashid, Saudi columnist for the London-based pan-Arab news-paper Asharq al-Awsat writes:

Erdogan, who wanted to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza, broke the Iranian blockade on the Arabs instead. .  .  . [T]he most that Ankara could benefit from by raising the Palestinian flag would be by advancing its political status, [which] does not contract or marginalize Arab interests, unlike the Iranian goal which directly undermines the Arab position.

If some Saudi officials are concerned that Erdogan’s play is a bit radical and wish, according to Asharq al-Awsat editor in chief Tariq Homayed, “Hamas would follow Turkey, and not vice versa,” in the end it all comes down to sectarianism. Turkey is Sunni, Iran is Shia, and despite the Ottoman Empire’s long history of oppressing their imperial subjects, the Arabs prefer anything to the prospect of Persian hegemony. If it means casting their lot with the progeny of those who enslaved them for centuries—well there is great comfort in custom.

If in a sense the Middle East is returning to its historical divisions—an Ottoman (Turkish) and Safavid (Iranian) rivalry where Israel stands in for the Western powers—especially with Washington’s diminishing profile in the region—it is worth lamenting how the Arabs wasted their moment of independence. What started with the birth of the Arab state system moved quickly to wars between those states and within them, and then the empty rhetoric of Nasser, despotism, mass murder, and a unifying hatred of Israel, all culminating in the suicidal obscurantism of groups like Hezbollah and Hamas, whom the Arab masses, characteristically, regard as heroes. The “Arab century,” that period during which the Arabs had their own destiny in their hands, was brief, lasting roughly a decade from 1956-67. A harsher, and perhaps more accurate, assessment suggests that it was even shorter than that: After all, Israel’s victory in the Six Day War shows that Nasser’s success at Suez was due not to anything he did, but to an American president’s ordering the French, British, and Israelis to stand down.

In reality, the Arab century was ours. For more than 65 years, the United States was the power underwriting the Arabs, and if not always the most sincere benefactor, we nonetheless protected them from more dangerous forces and their even more dangerous fantasies. What we won from the region is what the Turks now want as well: the wealth, influence, and power that is consequent on hegemony in the energy-rich Middle East. Ankara will serve as an inter-mediary between their Arab charges and a stingy Europe that up till now has turned its back on Turkey. But what do the Turks have to offer the Arabs that they hadn’t already impressed upon the region when they left it to its own devices almost a century ago? The Americans brought schools and hospitals to the Middle East, and, after 9/11, democracy, too, at last—or perhaps, too late. It’s not the Arab vacuum that Ankara is rushing to fill, but our own.

Lee Smith is the author of The Strong Horse: Power, Politics, and the Clash of Arab Civilizations (Doubleday).

Iran’s hostage redux

Source: Washington Times

Iran’s hostage redux

For three U.S. hikers, it’s Day 328 in captivity

By Frank Perley

It can no longer be denied: Iran is once again holding U.S. citizens hostage. Just as the Islamic regime grabbed the world’s attention 31 years ago when it took 52 American diplomats and embassy employees captive, it holds three young hikers, making them unwilling pawns in a geopolitical chess game with the West over Iran’s nuclear program. Once again, Iran is proving itself unworthy of a place among civilized nations.

The three were arrested last summer for purportedly straying across the Iranian border while hiking in Iraq and now languish in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison. The Islamic regime contends that the arrests were lawful and Iran’s judicial system is treating the case in a normal fashion. But after nearly a year, the trio has not been charged with a crime and the charade of legitimacy is fooling no one.

Shane Bauer, 27, Josh Fattal, 27, and Sarah Shourd, 31, were arrested July 31, 2009, when, according to news reports, they crossed an unmarked border into Iran while hiking in the mountains of Iraqi Kurdistan. They told authorities they must have strayed while following a trail leading to a waterfall, a local tourist attraction. Iran has said the three are suspected of spying and an investigation is ongoing. All three are graduates of the University of California at Berkeley, not exactly known as a hotbed of flag-waving Rambo types. Quite the contrary, the hikers have academic credentials in Middle Eastern and environmental studies that suggest not hostile intent, but rather a naive fascination with the exotic culture of the region. The fact that they ventured into an area where attitudes toward Americans are colored by U.S. involvement in two wars suggests a boldness born of innocence.

Iran has defied pleas for their release on humanitarian grounds from no less than globally respected Nobel Peace Prize winner and retired Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has issued periodic statements calling for their release – the latest on June 13 – to no avail.

The mothers of the American detainees have spent the past 11 months petitioning Iran for their children’s release. Finally, in May, the regime allowed them to travel to Tehran and visit with their children. Hopes were high at the time that with Miss Shourd and Mr. Bauer suffering from health problems, the trio would freed. However, the parents were sent home in tears without them.

On Thursday, the three mothers dropped the pretense of deference to Iran’s legal process and issued a tough statement demanding the release of the three captives: “To continue to detain our children without regard for their legal and human rights reinforces suspicions that they are being held in a cynical attempt by Iran to exert leverage with the United States.” Additionally, Laura Fattal, mother of captive Josh Fattal, told Associated Press, “These kids are innocent, and Iran knows it.”

But Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is deeply immersed in a high-stakes match of wits with the West, and he is keeping pawns on the chessboard to protect his crucial piece: Iran’s nuclear program. The United Nations imposed a fourth set of punishing economic sanctions on Iran earlier this month, and they were followed by additional U.S. and European Union measures last week to close loopholes in previous trade restrictions. With U.S. citizens sitting in Evin Prison, Mr. Ahmadinejad can proceed with his uranium-enrichment activities knowing that American hands are tied by concern for the safety of the detainees. Many fear an Islamic bomb in the hands of Iran will constitute a permanent threat to the well-being of the Middle East and Europe.

For his part, President Obama has limited his options by choosing a course in foreign relations that responds to provocation with reconciliation. Accordingly, there is little hope that the White House will bare its teeth anytime soon in an effort to compel Tehran to return the hikers.

Still, Iran does not exist in a vacuum. Even Mr. Ahmadinejad, for all of his defiance of the international sanctions, must realize that the intentional victimization of innocents earns him pointed scorn from people of reason the world over. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Last year, American journalist Roxana Saberi was convicted of espionage in Iran and sentenced to eight years in prison. However, her sentence was reduced, she was sent back, and Iran benefited from a rare occasion of global plaudits. Likewise, releasing the U.S. hikers would demonstrate once again that even in the Islamic Republic of Iran, political calculation and humaneness are not always mutually exclusive.

In the meantime, the trio’s unenviable predicament should serve as a lesson to any who might be tempted to follow their frivolous footsteps in that perilous region this summer. U.S. citizens would be wise to steer well clear of Iran’s borders. Aside from the obvious personal danger of incarceration in a hostile nation, it is unfair for travelers to place American authorities in the awkward position of having to choose between the national security interests of 309 million citizens and the well-being of a few wayward adventurers.

Frank Perley is senior editor of opinion for The Washington Times

An open letter to President Obama from Jon Voight

Source: Washington Times

An open letter from actor Jon Voight to President Obama:

June 22, 2010

President Obama:

You will be the first American president that lied to the Jewish people, and the American people as well, when you said that you would defend Israel, the only Democratic state in the Middle East, against all their enemies. You have done just the opposite. You have propagandized Israel, until they look like they are everyone’s enemy — and it has resonated throughout the world. You are putting Israel in harm’s way, and you have promoted anti-Semitism throughout the world.

You have brought this to a people who have given the world the Ten Commandments and most laws we live by today. The Jewish people have given the world our greatest scientists and philosophers, and the cures for many diseases, and now you play a very dangerous game so you can look like a true martyr to what you see and say are the underdogs. But the underdogs you defend are murderers and criminals who want Israel eradicated.

You have brought to Arizona a civil war, once again defending the criminals and illegals, creating a meltdown for good, loyal, law-abiding citizens. Your destruction of this country may never be remedied, and we may never recover. I pray to God you stop, and I hope the people in this great country realize your agenda is not for the betterment of mankind, but for the betterment of your politics.

With heartfelt and deep concern for America and Israel,

Jon Voight

Arab minority in Israel gets more radical

Source: Washington Times

Arab minority in Israel gets more radical

Report also indicates hostility among Jews

By Benjamin Birnbaum

While confronting threats abroad, Israel faces a challenge closer to home — the increasing radicalization of its Arab minority, according to a new report.

The report notes several public opinion trends in Israel’s Arab sector since 2003 that reflect a growing alienation from the state and its Jewish majority:

• Support for the proposition that “Jews in Israel are a people who have a right to a state” has declined from 75.5 percent to 60.8 percent while support for “two states for two peoples” has plummeted from 88.8 percent to 65 percent.

• Those who list Israeli citizenship as the most important aspect of their personal identity have dwindled from 29.6 percent to 19.8 percent, while those who identify primarily with the Palestinian people have gone from 18.8 percent to 32 percent.

• The number who believe that “despite its shortcomings, the regime in Israel is a democracy for the Arab citizens as well” has fallen from 63.1 percent to 50.5 percent while the minority that supports using “all means, including violence” to achieve political ends has jumped from 5.4 percent to 13.9 percent.

The report is the latest installment of renowned Haifa University sociologist Sammy Smooha’s annual “index of Arab-Jewish relations” and shows a continuation of some hostile attitudes among the Jewish majority, including that only 66.9 percent of Jewish Israelis support preserving the right of Arab citizens to vote.

In the context of ethnic conflict, the report states, “Arabs and Jews are bound to have a basic distrust in each other.” But there are degrees of distrust. Matters have gone from bad to worse since the collapse of the peace process in 2000 and the wars and terrorist attacks that followed.

“By any account this was a lost decade for coexistence between Arabs and Jews,” Mr. Smooha said in the report. “The situation worsened and bodes badly for the future of their relations.”

Given the blood ties between Israel’s Arab citizens and their Palestinian brethren in the West Bank and Gaza, Mideast experts see an important parallel.

“The Israelis face two Palestinian problems,” said Aaron David Miller, who has advised several presidents on the Arab-Israeli conflict. “The first issue — the question of occupation — deals with where they are. The second — the status of the country’s Arab minority — deals with what they are.

Sixty-plus years after its creation, Israel — where it is and what it is — is still not collectively accepted, clearly by the outside world, but by a vast number of its own citizens,” he said.

In turn, those citizens feel less welcome, particularly after the 2009 Israeli elections, which saw a collapse in the standing of left-wing Zionist parties (and of historical Arab support for them) and the rise of the Yisrael Beiteinu party of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who campaigned on an explicitly anti-Arab platform, with slogans like “Only Lieberman Understands Arabic” and “No Citizenship Without Loyalty” (a reference to the party’s proposal to strip the citizenship of those who do not sign an oath of loyalty to Israel as a Jewish state).

“This is, for us, the worst Knesset since the establishment of the state of Israel,” said Jafar Farah, director of the Mossawa Center, one of many Israeli nongovernmental organizations that advocate for Israeli Arabs. “Twenty-three laws have been submitted in one year by Knesset members that further the discrimination against our community.”

However, the Knesset members from Israel’s Arab parties have not been shy about showscasing their hostility to the Jewish state. Freshman MK Hanin Zuabi, who last year expressed support for Iran’s quest for a nuclear bomb, is facing criticism for taking part in the Gaza-bound flotilla.

The former head of her party, Azmi Bishara, is a fugitive from Israeli charges that he spied for Hezbollah. Years before Helen Thomas told Jews to “go home” to Poland and Germany, Bishara told a Lebanese audience much the same thing. “Return Palestine to us,” he said, “and take your democracy with you. We Arabs are not interested in it.”

At the time, it seemed Bishara was out of step with his constituents; whether that is still so, given reports like Smooha’s, is no longer clear. And, for that, there is blame to go around.

The conflict between Arabs and Jews, Mr. Miller said, “has never been one hand clapping. It really takes two peoples who don’t understand one another terribly well or, alternatively, understand one another all too well.”

Senators Challenge Pres. Obama on Rumors of Amnesty Thorugh Executive Actions

Senators Challenge Pres. Obama on Rumors of Amnesty Thorugh Executive Actions

posted on NumbersUSA

DHS Sec. Janet NapolitanoDHS Sec. Janet Napolitano

Several Senators have learned of a possible plan by the Obama Administration that would provide a mass Amnesty for the nation’s 11-18 million illegal aliens. Led by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), eight Senators addressed a letter to the President asking for answers to questions about a plan that would allow DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano to provide an amnesty if they can’t secure enough votes for a bill in the Senate.

(Send this FREE FAX to Pres. Obama expressing your Outrage at the Administration’s plans to provide an amnesty for illegal aliens through Executive Order)

The letter that was sent to Pres. Obama earlier today asks the President for clarification on the use of deferred action or parole for illegal aliens. The executive actions are typically used in special cases and are evaluated on a case-by-case basis, but if 60 votes can’t be secured in the Senate to pass a mass Amnesty, the Administration may use the discretionary actions as an alternative.

Here is a PDF copy of the letter signed by Sens. Grassley, Hatch (R-Utah), Vitter (R-La.), Bunning (R-Ky.), Chambliss (R-Ga.), Isakson (R-Ga.), Inhofe (R-Okla.), and Cochran (R-Miss.).

View this document on Scribd