Friday, February 18, 2011

The Grand ‘End Of Conflict’ Delusion

Steven Plaut, JEWISH PRESS

For the past twenty years the quest for a Middle East peace and for resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict has rested largely upon one specific strategy. We’ll call it the “End of Conflict Proclamation.”

The key to ending hostilities, so goes the theory, and the formula for bringing about an acceptance of Israel by the Arab and Muslim world, is this: Israel must strike a deal with the Palestinians that will result in the Palestinian leadership proclaiming the conflict has ended.

Israel would need to buy such a proclamation from those claiming to speak in the name of the Palestinians. But the “purchase” would result in the Palestinians declaring that, as far as they were concerned, there was no longer any basis for conflict with the Jews. Once they proclaimed they no longer had any residual grievances or claims against Israel, this proclamation of the End of Conflict between Israel and the Palestinians would neutralize anti-Israel hostility among Arabs and Muslims. Peace would be achieved.

According to the plan, such a proclamation would de-fang even the worst Islamists and Arab fascist regimes. True, believers in this fantasy concede, the Arab regimes have never really cared very much about the welfare of Palestinian Arabs. But that will not matter once the End of Conflict Proclamation is issued. Arab regimes and non-Arab Muslim regimes like Iran and their clients would be forced by the rule of logic to end their own belligerence toward Israel.

Since their anti-Zionism had always been founded upon the supposed mistreatment of Palestinians by Israelis and the alleged denial of Palestinian rights by the Jews, the moment the Palestinian leadership itself declared that Palestinian expectations had been satisfied, the rug would be pulled out from under the feet of those other regimes in the most dramatic way. Those regimes could not logically continue to war against Israel in the name of the Palestinians once the Palestinians themselves proclaimed themselves satisfied.\

Belief in the prospect of buying such an End of Conflict Proclamation has dominated Israeli policy ever since the early 1990s. It has been the driving force guiding the thinking of all Israeli governments since then, including those of the Likud and the so-called right. The immediate policy implication of the fantasy is that it is thought to be ultimately in Israel’s interests to “pay” for such a proclamation in the currency of concessions. This is true even when “payment” consists of granting to the Palestinians things no reasonable person could think they deserve.

The End of Conflict Proclamation was regarded as so important that it made no sense to quibble about its price, just as long as that price was something less than the total annihilation of Israel. The rationale for making concessions was that it was all part of the pursuit of Israeli self-interest. Even granting to the Palestinians concessions to which they clearly were not entitled would pay off because it would induce them to cooperate in the ultimate gesture to end the entire war – the Grand Proclamation.

Getting to the proclamation was the strategy pursued by the entire Israeli political spectrum, except perhaps for the far left, which has long demanded endless Israeli concessions not as a way to buy an End of Conflict Proclamation but as a means of weakening Israel, period.\

If a Palestinian conflict-ending proclamation ever became a feasible option, Israel’s radical left, led by the country’s tenured academic extremists, would protest against it.

* * * * *

The distance to which Israeli governments have been willing to go to barter for the enticing promise of a proclamation has been nothing short of mind boggling. Successive Israeli governments, including the current one led by Benjamin Netanyahu, have agreed to the creation
Of a Palestinian state in territories west of the Jordan river.

Perhaps more amazingly, they have agreed to acknowledge the existence of a Palestinian people – one entitled to self-determination, to a homeland, to political independence, and even to armed security

I emphasize this point because I doubt there are any serious people in Israel, even on the left, who believe the Palestinians are a people according to any historical standard. Certainly the Palestinians themselves, rhetoric notwithstanding, have never considered themselves to be a people. Palestinians are Arabs, part of the Arab nation that already controls 22 sovereign political entities spread over a territory nearly twice that of the United States.

The Arabs of Palestine are no more a separate and distinct people than are the Arabs of Detroit or of Marseilles.

Palestinian “nationalists” themselves concede the point. In an interview several years ago on Israeli television, Azmi Bashara, at the time a Knesset member but now in hiding because he is wanted by Israel for espionage and treason, said:

I don’t think there is a Palestinian nation. I think there is an Arab
nation. I think that this [the term "Palestinian nation"] is a
colonial invention. Palestine, up to the end of the 19th century was
southern Syria.

In an earlier interview, Palestinian nationalist Zuhair Mohsentold the
Dutch newspaper Trouw:

The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian stateis only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israelfor our Arabunity. In reality today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct “Palestinian people” to oppose Zionism. For tactical reasons, Jordan, which is a sovereign state with defined borders, cannot raise claims to Haifaand Jaffa, while as a Palestinian, I can undoubtedly demand Haifa, Jaffa and Jerusalem. However, the moment we reclaim our right to all of Palestine, we will not wait even a minute to unite Palestine and Jordan.

But Israeli political leaders were so enthralled at the prospect of settling the conflict with a dramatic End of Conflict Resolution that they were willing to accept the historicity of a distinct Palestinian people. For if none existed, how could the Palestinians play the role that had been assigned to them and proclaim the end to the conflict?

The prospect of ending the conflict was so important that no one wanted to let any scruples about pretense stand in the way. If the Grand Proclamation could be obtained by means of Israel’s declaring that space aliens in flying saucers had landed on the roof of the Knesset, Israeli leaders would have been only too happy to comply.

The acknowledgement of the existence of such a Palestinian nation was not kept by Israeli leaders in reserve, as the currency for the final
payment for the Grand Proclamation. It was, instead, the down payment, the first installment paid in advance by Israel, with no quid pro quo whatsoever.

* * * * *

The obsession with a proclamation was so thorough that Israel’s governments were willing to go well beyond the pretense that Palestinians are a nation.

Successive Israeli governments abandoned all of the Gaza Strip, down to the last inch, to Hamas terrorists after expelling every single Jew living there.

And, denials notwithstanding, a surprising number of Israeli politicians are open to accepting at least in principle some sort of Palestinian “right of return,” quibbling only over the numbers involved. Meanwhile, Israel has repeatedly offered to grant the Palestinians the bulk of the West Bank – the term “bulk” usually ranging anywhere from 90 to 100 percent of the land – in exchange for a Grand Proclamation.

Israeli politicians have also made it quite clear that they are willing – as they were in Gaza – to expel most and perhaps all of the Jewish “settlers” living in the West Bank as part of the deal. And Israeli leaders have refused to challenge the axiom that any Palestinian state need be judenrein, containing no Jewish minority at all.

Challenging that notion would upset the grand strategy of ending the conflict via a Grand Proclamation. Why question the illogic of those who insist Arabs should have the right to live as a political minority within Israel after a peace settlement is achieved – while no such settlement can be sought unless Jews are expelled from any future state of Palestine?

Even more incredible is the fact that Israel’s pursuit of the Grand Proclamation has been so obsessive that Israeli politicians have expressed a willingness to divide Jerusalem and grant control over the shrines of East Jerusalem to terrorists and their enablers.

Even the Likud has turned a blind eye to Palestinian encroachments in Jerusalem, and, for a period of time, limited Jewish construction in Jerusalem, signaling its openness to considering Arab claims to the city as part of a deal. If the Likud has not yet gone on public record with an offer to abandon East Jerusalem, it is not because Likud leaders rule that out as a basis for a deal but rather because they know the Israeli public is not yet ready to accept that as the price for a proclamation.

The infatuation with the prospect of a grand End of Conflict Proclamation was based on shaky foundations from the start. First, it was not at all obvious that even if Israel were to strike a deal with the Palestinians that would culminate in a proclamation, the Middle East conflict would really end.

It is true that Arab regimes had long based their hostility toward Israel upon their supposed concern for the rights of the Palestinians. But if the basis for that pretense were really removed through a Grand Proclamation, who is to say Arab leaders could not find some other excuse to take its place?

Hitler’s Germany went to war supposedly out of concern for the “oppressed” ethnic German minorities in Czechoslovakia, Poland, and Lithuania. But had the respective regimes managed to strike deals with their own ethnic German minorities, leading to End of Conflict
proclamations by those Germans, does anyone seriously believe Hitler would have abandoned his plans to conquer Europe?

Similarly, what would stop the Arab world from finding a new cause requiring Israel’s eradication?

But the more serious problem is that the grand fantasy of an End of Conflict Proclamation is totally unworkable because the Palestinians understand perfectly well what Israel is up to. They know Israeli strategy makes them, the Palestinians, the brokers of the deal – the lynchpins, strategically the critical players, with veto power over the entire situation.

Since Israel’s approach to conflict resolution with the Palestinians involves buying a Grand Proclamation at almost any cost, the cost will always rise. If someone needed to buy a particular Chevy from a used car dealer no matter the sticker price, the price would be raised without limit.

Knowing they have ultimate veto power over Israel’s ability to buy a proclamation that supposedly would end the conflict with the rest of the Arab and Muslim world, the Palestinians have no motivation to sell the Chevy. To the contrary, the rational strategy for them is just to let the Israelis keep making higher and higher bids, especially when those bids involve growing down payments and up-front installments.

The problem is even more severe than that. The Palestinians understand that delivering to Israel the Grand Proclamation it seeks would, for all intents and purposes, remove the Palestinians from world attention and interest. In exchange for the deliverance, the citizens of a state of Palestine would end up with a flea-bitten Third World impoverished mini-state, ruled by a kleptocratic oppressive government and raked by internal violence and barbarism.

Indeed, this clearly explains Palestinian strategy. Because Israel is willing to make virtually any concessions short of outright instant self-annihilation, the only demands the Palestinians are willing to consider as payment for the Grand Proclamation are those that would end Israel’s existence – not instantly, of course, but over a period of time.

Essentially, the Palestinians’ position is that they are willing to issue that Grand Proclamation only on the condition that Israel ultimately be governed by an Arab government; that Israel be flooded with Arab “refugees” to create an Arab population majority; that Israel be stripped of any symbols suggesting Jewishness; and that Israel change its name to Palestine.

The “two states for two peoples” formula is part of this game of pretense. It has long been the fundamental basis for seeking a peaceful resolution, but one accepted only by the Israeli government, not by the Arab world.

The Arab world is willing to consider the “two states for two peoples” formula only so long as neither of those two states is Israel and so long as neither of those two peoples is the Jews.

It is impossible to overstate the universal rejection by the entire Arab world, including by Israel’s own Arab population, of the very idea of acknowledging the legitimacy of Israel as a Jewish state.

The Arabs will continue to reject that idea even if Israel withdraws to its 1967 “Green Line” borders and turns East Jerusalem over to the Arabs, and even if a Palestinian state (or perhaps two, one dominated by Fatah and the other by Hamas) is formed in the West Bank and Gaza.

An Israeli politician with an ounce of common sense would understand that the Arabs’ refusal even to pay lip service to the legitimacy of Israel as a Jewish state nullifies the dubious promise of extracting a grand End of Conflict Proclamation from them.

The constitutional incapability of the Palestinians – and their string-pullers in the existing Arab states – to proclaim an end to the conflict with an Israel that is a Jewish Israel exposes such a hoped-for proclamation as nothing other than a dangerous, and quite possibly suicidal, fantasy.

Qaradawi's Ominous Return to Egypt

IPT News

Yusuf al-Qaradawi, an influential Muslim Brotherhood theologian, promises to be in Egypt's Tahrir Square to deliver a sermon at Friday's prayer service.
Qaradawi, who has lived in Qatar since 1961, was a vocal critic of deposed Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. A profile this week in Germany's Der Spiegel called him the Muslim Brotherhood's "father figure."But his return is being touted as a reward for "Qaradawi's role in mobilizing support for the Egyptian revolution," a claim which is questionable at best.
It won't be the first time Qaradawi has been back to Egypt, but his visits have been fleeting. A sermon from him on the first Friday after Mubarak's ouster could be hugely symbolic as the Brotherhood tries to exert influence over the direction Egyptian society takes. And it will trigger memories of the 1979 Iranian revolution, which took a dramatic turn when Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini returned from exile in France.
Egypt's revolution has been described as largely spontaneous, fueled by a building rage brought on by years of oppression, inspired by a Facebook page created by Google executive Wael Ghonim devoted to a man killed by security forces and ignited by the peaceful Tunisian revolt, which showed change was possible.
If anything, the Muslim Brotherhood deliberately took a low profile during the uprising, not wanting to play into Mubarak's narrative that his ouster would lead to chaos in Egypt. But a statement Monday from Qaradawi's International Union of Muslim Scholars said he "initiated the beginning of the Friday of wrath 28/01/2011 by shouting out loud, 'Go, Mubarak, safeguard the blood and protect the people of Egypt.'"
The Brotherhood confirmed Qaradawi's role in Friday's events, saying he "will address the celebrators on the importance of the role of all Egyptians in building a free and democratic Egypt."
The Der Spiegel profile notes Qaradawi's enigmatic nature. Hailed as a moderate for opposing al-Qaida and embracing modern technology, he has called on Allah to kill "the Jewish Zionists" and spoken "about the right of Palestinian women to blow themselves up." He has been barred from entering the U.S. since 1999, the profile said.
In the past two years, he also has:

Called on Muslims to acquire nuclear weapons "to terrorize their enemies."
Called jihad an Islamic moral duty and said Muslims are permitted to kill Israeli women because they serve in the army.
Affirmed his support for suicide bombings. "I supported martyrdom operations," he said, according to a translation by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI). "This is a necessary thing, as I told them in London. Give the Palestinians tanks, airplanes, and missiles, and they won't carry out martyrdom operations. They are forced to turn themselves into human bombs, in order to defend their land, their honor, and their homeland."
Called the Holocaust a divine punishment of Jews "for their corruption. The last punishment was carried out by Hitler. By means of all the things he did to them - even though they exaggerated this issue - he managed to put them in their place. This was divine punishment for them. Allah willing, the next time will be at the hands of the believers."
Prayed for the opportunity to kill a Jew before his death. "The only thing that I hope for is that as my life approaches its end, Allah will give me an opportunity to go to the land of Jihad and resistance, even if in a wheelchair. I will shoot Allah's enemies, the Jews, and they will throw a bomb at me, and thus, I will seal my life with martyrdom. Praise be to Allah."

This week, a Brotherhood official was among eight people named to a panel charged with recommending changes to Egypt's suspended constitution. As the IPT has noted, the Brotherhood's bylaws continue to call for it "to establish Allah's law in the land by achieving the spiritual goals of Islam and the true religion." That includes "the need to work on establishing the Islamic State, which seeks to effectively implement the provisions of Islam and its teachings."
Der Spiegel reports that Qaradawi envisions a "United Muslim Nations" as a contemporary form of the caliphate. In its statement on the Revolution, the International Union of Muslim Scholars advocated something much broader. It called for "all components of the Egyptian people, Muslims and Copts, alike to stand as one to reach a consultative democratic government which represents the Egyptian people and its values and principles."
Images of a triumphant Qaradawi in leading prayer at the spot that triggered Egypt's revolution might trigger memories of Ayatollah Khomeini's return to Iran months after the Shah fled. Though analysts at the time did not anticipate him seizing power, the Islamic Republic was born just two months later.
Analysts today say differences in Egypt's uprising and in the Brotherhood's following make a repeat unlikely.
In an interview on National Public Radio, Stanford University director of Iranian studies Abbas Milani said the Brotherhood has no charismatic leader of Khomeini's stature. But he remained skeptical of the organization's claims that it is not interested in making Egypt's revolution into an Islamic one.
"Do you believe them?" asked Steve Inskeep. "No, I don't, to be honest with you," Milani said. "I think Muslim Brotherhood has an established record of wanting to create a government based on Sharia."

The Dinosaurs Still Looking for Israeli Sharks and Vultures

Danny Ayalon
Israel's Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs

During the last few months, we have witnessed some bizarre conspiracy stories in the Arab world. Towards the end of last year some in Egypt called the shark attacks on tourists in the Sinai Peninsula a Mossad plan. This was closely followed last month by the "arrest" of a vulture in Saudi Arabia as an alleged Israeli agent. Unfortunately, these are just two recent examples of those in our region that identify Israel's hand in almost everything that happens in the Middle East. While these conspiracy theories have long been part of an authoritarian diversionary tactic from the true ills of their societies, some in the West are led by this Israel-blinkered trend, if not the actual details.

While few European or American analysts believed or paid any credence to these Zionist Dr. Doolittle stories, some still see every event in the Middle East, minor or major, as connected to Israel. Many of these analysts are so preoccupied with Israel or the so-called "Middle East conflict", a term that ignores or dismisses all other conflicts in the region as irrelevant and non-newsworthy, that they have no understanding of the region beyond Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

One would think that the recent events in Tunisia, Cairo, Yemen and elsewhere would demand soul-searching and humility on the part of these talking-heads who pontificate from their comfortable think-tanks and self-appointed analyst positions in Washington, London and Brussels.

Some of these analysts have not amended their tired and outdated thinking even after the recent events, merely stating the relationship of the unrest to Israel and the peace process. They have become the dinosaurs of international affairs and foreign policy analysis and will not be shaken from their ideological foundations by facts that contradict their thinking.

Many of these analysts, some who claim experience in Middle East affairs, like those who claim to have been part of a peace process negotiating team when they did little more than make the tea, lack a keen understanding of the region. They fundamentally ignored the UNDP Human Development Report for Arab states report in 2009 which was a virtual roadmap for the events that took place during the last few weeks.

This report stated that the Arab world is lacking in all areas of human development, such as freedom, women empowerment and education. In addition, nearly 40% of the Arab world lives below the international poverty line. For the Arab world to merely maintain its current position, which is at the lowest rung on the development ladder, it will need to create 51 million jobs in the next ten years.

The report, co-authored by Arab scholars was a scream in the dark for many western analysts to wake up and face the very real problems affecting the Arab world. In addition, the free Arab press relates to these issues on a daily basis. However, this patronizing and perhaps even chauvinistic approach by some analysts tells the people of the region what they should be thinking rather than learning and listening.

Nevertheless, they cling to the tired and discredited claim that building a few of apartments in Ariel is what drives the so-called "Arab street" to distraction. For those who don't read Arabic, many of those demonstrating in their capital cities wrote slogans in English to give a voice to their frustrations that the rest of the world could understand.

I didn't see any signs about settlements, the Palestinians or the stalemate in the peace process on the streets of Tunis, Sanaa or Cairo. The few signs that did mention Israel were so monstrously antisemitic that they can be dismissed as the rantings of those who can not tolerate a Jewish presence anywhere in the Middle East and are hardly interested in any sort of peace process.

If this ideological indifference to the wider Middle East beyond the borders of Israel, which makes up around one seven hundredth of the total area of the Arab world, were contained solely within research institutes and academia then perhaps it wouldn't be so dangerous.

However, these analyses are determining the thought processes of the decision-makers and opinion-shapers who scrambled for a coherent policy to a situation that they knew far too little about.

For a few short weeks the world was shown that there is a wider Middle East beyond the western Mashriq and that the hundreds of millions of Arabs of the region do not vent their frustration at Israeli policy, but rather seeks to better their lives in a region where greater human development is urgently necessary.

The recent debate about what is more important, security and stability or democracy and freedom, is irrelevant. We hope that the region will reach a point where all elements are satisfied. This can only be achieved if we focus on the Middle East as a whole and not look for simplistic and one-dimensional solutions for all the ills of the Middle East through Jerusalem.

To ensure this the dinosaurs, those who did not have the basic framework to understand the recent events or have not adapted to the new reality and are still quixotically searching for Israeli sharks and vultures in every Middle Eastern event, must be challenged.

Only then can the trials and tribulations of the region, of which there are many, including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, be properly identified and resolved.

To read more, please visit my website

Thursday, February 17, 2011

"It Never Stops"

Arlene Kushner

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.

Omri Ceren has written an article in Commentary about this that should be seen. It includes a citation from the publication Foreign Policy, which says:

"The U.S. informed Arab governments Friday that it will support a U.N. Security Council statement reaffirming that the 15-nation body 'does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity,' a move aimed at avoiding the prospect of having to veto a stronger Palestinian resolution calling the settlements illegal. But the Palestinian’s rejected the American offer. … [US Ambassador to the UN, Rice] outlined the new U.S. offer in a closed door meeting on Tuesday with the Arab Group. … [I]n exchange for scuttling the Palestinian resolution, the United States would support the council statement, consider supporting a U.N. Security Council visit to the Middle East, the first since 1979, and commit to supporting strong language criticizing Israel’s settlement policies in a future statement by the Middle East Quartet." Adds Ceren:

"In a way, this is a natural follow-up to the administration’s bumbling in Egypt, where they managed to alienate all parties in the Middle East except the Muslim Brotherhood, Iran, and Iran’s assorted proxies. This gesture won’t win us any lasting goodwill from Arab elites. WikiLeaks showed that they care far more about geopolitical stability than they do about the settlements, such that the spectacle of the White House abandoning a second ally for the second week in a row would be met with worried chagrin, regardless of what they say out loud...

"...our [US] UN mission...seems to believe that 'bargaining' means 'getting progressively closer to the other side’s position.' We’re negotiating with the likes of Libya and the Hezbollah-controlled Lebanon over whether we should protect one of our last Middle East allies against a biased UN lynch mob."


OK. We have a radical-Muslim loving enemy in the White House. This is not news.

Seems, once again, that we may be saved by the Arabs, who are refusing to compromise and are pushing for that full Security Council resolution. Which, by the way, will be debated tomorrow (and very likely past Shabbat time for me, here in Israel). For, in spite of everything, the US may still veto this full tougher resolution (albeit reluctantly) because it contradicts US policy, which is that issues must be dealt with via negotiations. If the US had no problem accepting the full resolution, it would not have tried to soften it. As it is, the US now has to decide whom to anger.


However, we are not without friends in the US, and I am receiving word about members of the House speaking out about this -- though I do not have details as I write.

What I ask is that each of you speak out as well. It must be today:

Communicate to Secretary of State Clinton and President Obama your demand that the US not betray the only friend it has in the Middle East, and that the resolution on settlements in Israel to be brought before the Security Council be vetoed.

We need huge numbers on this. Flood them with your messages. No rudeness -- it's counterproductive. No long sermons or history lessons. Keep it short, clear and direct.

For Secretary Clinton

Contact the State Department Public Communication Division:

Phone 202-647-6575 Fax 202-647-1579

For President Obama

Fax: 202-456-2461 White House Comment line: 202-456-1111

e-mail form via: (This is the least effective option.)


I had predicted that, because of the unrest in Egypt, Israel would not be permitting any further Egyptian troops into the Sinai, following the 800 we agreed to allow in, primarily in the south and at Rafah, in January.

I was wrong. The Sinai is in chaos, and it's not just the Bedouins who are the trouble: Egyptian police have been holding mass demonstrations in the northern Sinai because they are attacked by the Bedouin: police have been killed recently. They want better pay, and better conditions.

And so we've said yes to some "small number" (not quantified) of additional army troops to deal with the terrorist-supporting Bedouins, who are not being dealt with by the police, and to guard the natural gas pipeline to Israel.

Bedouin near St Catherine's monastery, Sinai, Egypt

Reportedly, the Egyptian military has agreed not to deploy near the border with southern Israel, and to leave if requested to do so. There may be good reasons for the decision made in Israel -- with regard both to protection of the gas line and prevention of terrorism -- but there's a danger, a certain perverse logic, here. The promises made by the Egyptian military are only good if they wish to honor them. If a situation arose in which we would feel the need to ask them to leave, we then might be facing precisely the sort of situation in which the Egyptian troops were no longer amenable to respecting our demands.

Obviously the betting in Jerusalem is that the military in control in Egypt presents no threat to Israel now. And the following article helps us understand why this may so.


Thoughts of George Friedman, writing for the Stratfor Geopolitical Intelligence Report, are below. I have reproduced a good deal of what he wrote, but stay with it because it's a fascinatingly different perspective:

"On Feb. 11, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak resigned. A military council was named to govern in his place. On Feb. 11-12, the crowds that had gathered in Tahrir Square celebrated Mubarak's fall and the triumph of democracy in Egypt. On Feb. 13, the military council abolished the constitution and dissolved parliament, promising a new constitution to be ratified by a referendum and stating that the military would rule for six months, or until the military decides it's ready to hold parliamentary and presidential elections.

"What we see is that while Mubarak is gone, the military regime in which he served has dramatically increased its power...

"At this point, we simply don't know what will happen. We do know what has happened. Mubarak is out of office, the military regime remains intact and it is stronger than ever...but the reality of what has happened...and the interpretation that much of the world has placed on it are startlingly different. Power rests with the regime, not with the crowds. In our view, the crowds never had nearly as much power as many have claimed.

"Certainly, there was a large crowd concentrated in a square in Cairo, and there were demonstrations in other cities. But the crowd was limited. It never got to be more than 300,000 people or so in Tahrir Square, and while that's a lot of people, it is nothing like the crowds that turned out during the 1989 risings in Eastern Europe or the 1979 revolution in Iran. Those were massive social convulsions in which millions came out onto the streets. The crowd in Cairo never swelled to the point that it involved a substantial portion of the city.

"In a genuine revolution, the police and military cannot contain the crowds. In Egypt, the military chose not to confront the demonstrators...because it agreed with the demonstrators' core demand: getting rid of Mubarak. And since the military was the essence of the Egyptian regime, it is odd to consider this a revolution.


"The crowd in Cairo, as telegenic as it was, was the backdrop to the drama, not the main feature. The main drama began months ago when it became apparent that Mubarak intended to make his reform-minded 47-year-old son, Gamal, lacking in military service, president of Egypt. This represented a direct challenge to the regime. In a way, Mubarak was the one trying to overthrow the regime.

"The Egyptian regime was founded in a coup led by Col. Gamal Abdel Nasser...It was intended to be a secular regime with democratic elements, but it would be guaranteed and ultimately controlled by the military.

"...Each successive president of Egypt, Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak, while formally elected in elections of varying dubiousness, was an officer in the Egyptian military...

"Mubarak's decision to name his son represented a direct challenge to the Egyptian regime. Gamal Mubarak was not a career military officer...Mubarak's desire to have his son succeed him appalled and enraged the Egyptian military, the defender of the regime. If he were to be appointed, then the military regime would be replaced by, in essence, a hereditary monarchy — what had ruled Egypt before the military...Mubarak's insistence on Gamal and his unwillingness to step down created a crisis for the regime. The military feared the regime could not survive Mubarak's ambitions.


"This is the key point to understand. There is a critical distinction between the regime and Hosni Mubarak. The regime consisted — and consists — of complex institutions centered on the military but also including the civilian bureaucracy controlled by the military. Hosni Mubarak...was increasingly seen as a threat to the regime, and the regime turned on him.

"The demonstrators never called for the downfall of the regime. They demanded that Mubarak step aside...The military did not like the spectacle of the crowds, which is not the way the military likes to handle political matters. At the same time, paradoxically, the military welcomed the demonstrations, since they created a crisis that put the question of Mubarak's future on the table. They gave the military an opportunity to save the regime and preserve its own interests.

"The Egyptian military is opaque... Who was on what side is a guess. What is known is that many in the military opposed Gamal, would not push the issue to a coup, and then staged a coup designed to save the regime after the demonstrations in Cairo were under way.

"That is the point. What happened was not a revolution. The demonstrators never brought down Mubarak, let alone the regime. What happened was a military coup that used the cover of protests to force Mubarak out of office in order to preserve the regime.

"We now face the question of whether the coup will turn into a revolution. The demonstrators demanded — and the military has agreed to hold — genuinely democratic elections and to stop repression. It is not clear that the new leaders mean what they have said...But there are deeper problems in the democratization of Egypt. First, Mubarak's repression had wrecked civil society...Second, the military is deeply enmeshed in running the country...and it is not clear that, in the end, the military will want to leave the position it has held for more than half a century.


"Of course, there is the feeling...that something unheard of has taken place, as U.S. President Barack Obama has implied. It is said to have something to do with Twitter and Facebook. We should recall that, in our time, genuine revolutions that destroyed regimes took place in 1989 and 1979, the latter even before there were PCs. Indeed, such revolutions go back to the 18th century. None of them required smartphones, and all of them were more thorough and profound than what has happened in Egypt so far. This revolution will not be 'Twitterized.' The largest number of protesters arrived in Tahrir Square after the Internet was completely shut down.

"The new government has promised to honor all foreign commitments, which obviously include the most controversial one in Egypt, the treaty with Israel... [however], the crowds in the square seemed to have other thoughts, not yet clearly defined. But then, it is not clear that the demonstrators in the square represent the wishes of 80 million Egyptians.


"The Egyptian government is hardly in a position to confront Israel, even if it wanted to. The Egyptian army has mostly American equipment and cannot function if the Americans don't provide spare parts or contractors to maintain that equipment...Egypt is not going to war any time soon.

"It is not that nothing happened in Egypt, and it is not that it isn't important. It is simply that what happened was not what the media portrayed but a much more complex process...

"...An 82-year-old man has been thrown out of office, and his son will not be president. The constitution and parliament are gone and a military junta is in charge. The rest is speculation."


Prime Minister's brief comment on the situation in Egypt was, in essence, that while we hope for the best for the people of Israel, we must prepare for the worst.


The predicted entry of two Iranian ships into the Mediterranean via the Suez Canal has not transpired. At least not yet. I'm getting conflicting reports on what may have happened:

The reports that the ships were coming through the Suez Canal may have been premature, for there were claims that the officials at the Canal never received from Iran the requisite application for permission to pass. (Those claims, of course, not necessarily proving anything.)

Or Iran may have been intending to move on this, but then been dissuaded by messages that we'll never know about.

Or, as Al Arabiya TV reported today,
Egyptian authorities may have prevented the two Iranian ships -- currently docked at the Jeddah port in Saudi Arabia -- from crossing the Canal.

From one unnamed Egyptian source came a report that the planned crossing was postponed to an unknown future date.

At any rate, for the moment, the knowledge that an Iranian missile ship is not in Mediterranean waters qualifies as good news in my book.


© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.

see my website

Objectionable behavior, questionable leadership

Isi Leibler
February 17, 2011

The Jewish Chronicle of London this week highlighted what it alleged was Tzipi Livni's endorsement of controversial remarks made last November by Mick Davis, chairman of Anglo Jewry's United Jewish Israel Appeal and head of its unaccountable Jewish Leadership Council.

The story occupied the entire front page, and was followed by a lengthy article by Davis based on his address at the recent Herzliya conference and crafted to justify his earlier remarks. The Jewish Chronicle also carried an editorial lavishly praising Davis's right to "become Anglo Jewry's spokesman for the view that the current Israeli government is on the wrong trajectory," and hailing Livni's "admirable words" endorsing "our right" to hold "a big conversation, of which we can all be proud." The editorial also condemned as "bizarre" unspecified calls "to demand that our communal leaders adopt a vow of silence on matters of specific Jewish concern."

Many will regard it as a sad reflection of the state of Anglo-Jewry that at this time, when British media hostility toward the Jewish state has reached an all-time high, its flagship communal newspaper would adopt such a negative approach, endorsing calls encouraging Jews to criticize the Israeli government.

The Jewish Chronicle quoted Livni a saying that Diaspora leaders have a "duty" to speak out when Israel "does something wrong," and that "as leaders, we in Israel must take into account the concerns of Diaspora Jewry."

In the course of a subsequent address this week to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, she made similar remarks, calling for dialogue between Israel and world Jewry and "placing everything on the table."

It is unclear whether Livni was even aware of the earlier Davis remarks. Were she to endorse such criticism from a Diaspora leader, she would undoubtedly infuriate most Israelis, who would not take kindly to a British Jewish mining magnate exploiting his communal role to intrude on matters that could affect the lives of children and grandchildren serving in the IDF.

However, The Jewish Chronicle's spin on Livni's remarks was clearly designed to bolster its editorial line, which endorses the critical statements Davis had previously expressed.

NO SERIOUS person has ever denied the right of Diaspora Jews to criticize Israel or condemn moral lapses by Israelis in public life - whether with respect to corruption, religious extremism, discrimination or restrictions on freedom of expression.

Indeed, such criticism has always been an important component of the Israel-Diaspora relationship.

However, there was always the caveat that it would be unconscionable for Jews living in the Diaspora to exert pressure in relation to security policies which could have a lifeand- death impact on Israeli citizens.

In his initial outburst, Davis made the provocative statement that "I think the government of Israel has to recognize that their actions directly affect me as a Jew living in London, UK. When they do good things, it is good for me, when they do bad things, it is bad for me. And the impact on me is as significant as it is on Jews living in Israel... I want them to recognize that."

In relation to the peace process, he also challenged the morality and "courage" of Israeli leaders.

It was not a proud day for Anglo-Jewry when an Israeli ambassador felt obliged to publicly reprimand a Jewish communal leader for behaving in such an "unwarranted" manner, deploring his use of language based on "the narrative of Israel's enemies."

Ambassador Ron Prosor complained that remarks by Davis that Israel is "losing its moral compass" or would be "characterized de facto as an apartheid state" came "straight from our opponents' lexicon."

Davis even went beyond these comments.

In lieu of calling on Jews to rally in defense of the embattled Jewish state, he encouraged them to join him in publicly criticizing the policies of its democratically elected government. No other Jewish community, including that in the US (and American Jews are considered far more liberal than their British counterparts), would tolerate such behavior from a purportedly mainstream leader. Davis is, after all, head of the UJIA, not a spokesman for J Street.

It is especially problematic, and even offensive to say the least, for the leader of a Jewish community to make such remarks in the toxic atmosphere of the UK, where demonization and delegitimization of Israel as well as outright anti-Semitism have reached record levels. Davis would do well to read the chilling analysis of anti- Semitism and hatred of Israel in the UK contained in a recent Jerusalem Post article by Prof. Robert Wistrich, a former British Jew living here, and recognized as a world expert on anti-Semitism.

In an effort to justify his former remarks, Davis disingenuously suggests he was being criticized for supporting a two-state solution (which the government of Israel supports), when in fact what he actually implied was that it is the government rather than the Palestinians which represents the obstacles to peace.

This approach was replicated in the current editorial of The Jewish Chronicle, which also expressed its "grave reservations about the current government's genuine commitment to seeking a two-state solution," despite Binyamin Netanyahu's unprecedented initiative in freezing settlement activity, which still failed to persuade the Palestinians to even participate in negotiations.

Davis also falsely asserts that "in Israel's formative years, there was real dialogue with the Diaspora. This is no longer the case."

In reality, Labor Zionist (Mapai) leaders from David Ben-Gurion through to Yitzhak Rabin reacted far more harshly to criticism from Diaspora Jews than their current counterparts do. In contrast to the restraint employed by Netanyahu, they wouldn't have hesitated to publicly vent their outrage if a tycoon of the likes of Davis had made such provocative statements.

Although the Anglo-Jewish establishment has failed to condemn the Davis outbursts, there was a substantial grassroots protest, and it is noteworthy that delegates to the Board of Deputies of British Jews took the unusual step of expressing their displeasure by overruling the decision of their executive to send a mission to meet with the PA and Mahmoud Abbas.

British Jews today are in desperate need of leaders who will encourage Jews to stand up and fight instead of remaining on the sidelines or identifying with the anti-Zionist chic.

Davis dismissed my previous criticism of his outburst as coming "from that mad Australian who attacks everyone."

I was privileged to head a major Jewish Diaspora community which continues to take pride in standing up and defending Israel and a multitude of international Jewish causes. Thus, as the frenzied campaign to demonize and delegitimize Israel in the UK gathers force, I would urge Davis to consider the consequences of his intemperate behavior. If he has any sense of responsibility, instead of calling on Jews to criticize Israel, he should concentrate on promoting its case in a country which has displayed little understanding for an embattled democracy surrounded by unstable regimes and Islamic fanatics united in their determination to deny Jewish sovereignty.

This column was originally published in the Jerusalem Post

Israeli Academics Call Poland to Boycott Israeli-Made Weapons

Elad Benari

On Tuesday, as the Knesset debated a law against boycotts on Israel, a group of radical left Israeli academics turned to the government of Poland (the incoming president of the European Union) and demanded action against what they termed the “crimes of the occupation” perpetrated by Israel.

The group is headed by Professor Rachel Giora of Tel Aviv University and is demanding that Poland cancel a cooperation agreement with Israel over production of the Spike missile, which they claim Israeli directs against civilians.

The group members are also calling on the Polish government to promote an “arms embargo” on Israel on behalf of the European Union. In addition, the group is demanding that the Polish government send independent observers to monitor what they term “the human rights violations perpetrated by Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem” and are also calling to “begin to protest against the wave of racist legislation that was recently adopted by the Knesset, or those that may come to a vote soon,” a reference to the recent decision by the Knesset to establish a parliamentary inquiry into the funding sources of leftist groups.

As if that was not enough, the group members also call on Poland to disallow the activities of Israeli companies that operate in Judea and Samaria, including Egged which operates bus lines in the area, as well as the Eden mineral water company, which has operations in Poland as well.

In response to the boycott call, MK Othniel Schneller (Kadima) has addressed a letter to Attorney General, Yehuda Weinstein, asking him to investigate the signatories of the letter.

“As a citizen who sees great importance in the right to free speech, I'm afraid that the legal system sets no clear boundaries which clarify how far one may go before harming the interests of the State of Israel,” wrote Schneller.

The Im Tirtzu movement issued a statement on Tuesday in which it condemned the call for the boycott and said: “We express our disgust at the continuing policy of turning a blind eye to attacks by Israelis against the state. Im Tirtzu is planning to turn to the Attorney General with a request to open a criminal investigation against Professor Rachel Giora of Tel Aviv University, who is calling for a Polish boycott on Israel, Egged and Eden.”

The statement goes on to say: “The call to boycott is a sabotage of the foundations of the state. It is the Attorney General's responsibility to prosecute these criminals. We call on Tel Aviv University to immediately fire Prof. Rachel Giora for calling for an international boycott of Israel.”

This is not the first time that Prof. Giora has been involved in calling for boycotts against Israeli interests. Several weeks ago she was one of several activists who asked the British authors association to call on English author Ian McEwan to boycott a ceremony in Israel in which he is slated to receive the Jerusalem Prize.

Giora was also a member of one of the radical leftist and anti-Israel groups which called on pop singer Madonna to skip her performance in Israel two years ago.

Giora had said then that a performance in Israel “would imply that Israel is behaving in an acceptable manner, and would be interpreted by Israelis as moral support for the illegal and inhumane policies, described by many as war crimes and crimes against humanity.”

Her salary is covered by the Israeli taxpayer and donors to TAU. She did not tell the latter to boycott Israel.

Thank you Mr. Education Minister, Mr. Gideon Saar

David Wilder
February 16, 2011

Hebron and Ma'arat HaMachpela have again sprung into the headlines. This time by the graces of Education minister Gideon Sa'ar. Visiting in Gush Etzion and Kiryat Arba, Sa'ar also paid his respects to his great grandparents. You know, Abraham and Sarah, who've been lying in eternal repose at the caves of Machpela for almost 4,000 years.
This time the sirens are sounding as a result of Minister Sa'ar's comments concerning children and Hebron. More specifically, about school children visiting Ma'arat HaMachpela. He managed to wake up the Israeli left, who are desperately searching for a seemingly substantive issue to yell and scream about. Sa'ar provided them with what they've been looking for. What could be so earth-shattering? Simply, the education minister expressing the necessity for Jewish-Israeli kids to visit Machpela within the framework of the official education ministry's curriculum.
Why would the head of the education pyramid so risk his political career to make such an offensive remark? Well, when you think about it, maybe it really isn't so offensive. Perhaps the opposite is true. Might it well be odious not to allow kids to visit such a site? Why?
I don't think there's too much I can write that hasn't been written before, by me and many others, even before I was born. But I guess some things have to be repeated until they eventually sink in.
Many years ago, opposition leader Ariel Sharon stood next to the steps leading up to the 2,000 year old building atop the caves of Machpela. There he proclaimed: "What other people has such a monument where all the founders of our people are buried, together, at one place. Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob and Leah! Every tourist should come here, every ambassador should be brought here, every school child should visit here, because this is our roots, the roots of the Jewish people!
Why the opposition to visiting Hebron? The espoused reasons usually focus around a couple of points, those being safety factors and politics. There are those who say that Hebron is dangerous. Why is it so dangerous? Because of the great number of 'hostile forces' aka Arabs, in the area. But those on the left who so supported Oslo and the Hebron accords also believe that the era of peace has arrived. The 'hostile forces' aka Arabs are no longer hostile. To the contrary, they are Israel's best friends. So why be scared of them?!
But, of course, they know the truth. The 'hostile forces' aka Arabs are still hostile. Why be afraid? Because the Israeli left prefers to acquiesce to Obama's demands and ease up security measures, even if they endanger people's lives. But then, of course, the question is, whose lives. If it's only us measly 'settlers,' so who cares if we live or die. But should it be the children of the new left, clearly their blood is redder than ours.
However, in all actuality, last year some 700,000 people visited the 'Jewish side' of Ma'arat HaMachpela. In order to do that, they all had to come into Hebron. They all arrived home safe and sound, just as they arrived. Well, not really. Spiritually anyone and everyone who visits this holy site leaves uplifted, on a real spiritual high. So in body, all those hundreds of thousands remained as is; but spiritually they'd all changed; people cannot help but be affected by the sanctity of this wondrous site.
Thank G-d, the security forces work hard, night and day, ensuring that anyone and everyone can visit anywhere in Hebron's 'Jewish zone,' and of course at Machpela, without any fear or apprehension.
And, what if…? And what if…. is a question that can be asked when swimming in the Kinneret, mountain-climbing in the Negev, snorkeling in Eilat, or sleeping in your bed in Sderot or Kiryat Shemona. Or getting on a bus in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv for that matter.
So much for security issues.
Then, there are others who say that Hebron is synonymous with politics and the education ministry cannot force a 'political view' down anyone's throat. I guess that's true. After all, if Abraham lived today and tried to by the caves from Efron the Hittite, the deal couldn't be completed until Efron had received a permit from the PA and the Israeli Civil Administration allowing him to sell the property. Abraham couldn't conclude the purchase before receiving an OK from the Defense Minister and the Prime Minister. Can you imagine the headlines: 'Abraham gyps the Hittites: steals caves for only 400 shekels! (That's about $700,000 in contemporary currency.)
Others would later write: Attempt to occupy Hittite land. Efron forced out! Abraham's army threatens world peace!
And someone would surely demand: What's in those caves? Why did he buy them? What's behind the purchase? Don't let him establish facts on (in) the ground. Don't allow Sarah's burial in Hebron. Send them back to Beer Sheva! Or "Dig her up! NOW"
This chapter in the Torah, Parshat Chaye Sarah, would become the subject of national and international debate, with certain Israelis demanding that it be removed from the scriptures: "Incitement against the Hittites." Any rabbi who dared to read these verses in the synagogue on Shabbat would be arrested and interrogated. "Do you believe in transferring the Hittites out of their homeland?!"
And undoubtedly, such a provocative subject must be kept from the pure, innocent children. A new internet provider would offer automatic censorship of such blasphemy.
Enough of the sarcasm and bad jokes. Really, it isn't a joke at all. It's very sad. It's very sad that Jews, Israelis, refuse to recognize our glorious, magnificent past, the pillars, not only of Judaism, not only of monotheism, but of humanity. A belief, not of human sacrifice, but of prayer, to one G-d. This is our heritage, our gift to mankind. And it began here, in Hebron. This is the roots of our life in Israel. Anyone who condemns Jews living in Hebron, also rejects the rights of Jews to live anywhere in Eretz Yisrael, decimating the legitimacy of the State of Israel. You can cut off the branch of a tree and it will continue to live. But if you chop off the roots, it dies.
Perhaps there are those here in Israel who believe in suicide, or assisted-killing. That is the definition of removing Jews from Hebron and abandoning our roots, Ma'arat HaMachpela. The best way to prevent such a horrible death is to educate our children about who we are, revealing our true identity, teaching them, from an early age, the essence of our existence. That essence begins at Machpela, in Hebron. Any attempt to deny our children this most basic education is similar to demanding that a fish live out of water.
This is why, our enlightened education minister, Mr. Gideon Saar, wisely decided to begin sending Israeli school children to visit Ma'arat HaMachpela. Not to make them good Likudniks, not to make them 'crazy, extremist settlers,' rather to expose them to their heritage, their culture and the pedigree from which they originate. Avraham Avinu and Sarah Emenu, our patriarchs and matriarchs, our great grandpa and great grandma.
Thank you, Mr. Education Minister, Minister Gideon Saar.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

"Seeking the Rays of Light"

Arlene Kushner

he 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.


It poured here this evening. Over much of the last several weeks -- after an alarmingly dry winter -- we've been having rain. For Israel, this is a bracha, a true blessing.

It's the beginning of spring, and I can tell because -- even in the heavy rain -- the almond blossoms are out. Trees in flower are all over the countryside and it lifts the heart to see them. ideon Sa'ar, Minister of Education, has announced a new program, "Let's Go Up to Hevron," which would bring thousands of school students to Hevron, starting next year, to visit the Machpelah -- the Cave of the Patriarchs.

This would permit students to be in touch with their Jewish heritage. That appreciation of their roots is essential to their understanding of what it's all about.


An anti-boycott bill -- submitted by coalition chair Ze'ev Elkin and sponsored by 27 MKs from Likud, Yisrael Beitenu, Shas, Habayit Hayehudi, United Torah Judaism and Kadima -- has passed its first reading in the Knesset. It would fine anyone who initiates, encourages or provides assistance to boycotts against a person because of his ties to Israel.

A sign of fighting back. May it pass through to the third reading.


Maybe, just maybe (if the objections don't become too vociferous and everything else pans out), the IDF's academic campus is going to move to Jerusalem, beyond the Green Line. The projected site is south of the Hebrew University Campus on Mount Scopus, extending into the neighborhood of Wadi Joz.

A spokeswoman for the municipality said Jerusalem does not differentiate between lands on different sides of the Green Line because, "as is widely known, Jerusalem was united in 1967."

Love it!

There is much process to see through, including final determination of the ownership of the land in question. In point of fact, the area around the Mount Scopus campus of Hebrew University remained an Israeli enclave between 1948 and 1967. But we're going to hear plenty from those who accuse us of "occupation."


A poll done for Israel Television Channel One's Politika program and released yesterday shows that right wing parties would garner 66 seats and left wing parties, 54, if elections were held now. Kadima would lose three seats and Likud would gain one. Netanyahu's ratings were better than Livni's. No one polled said he or she would vote for Ehud Barak's new party.


OK, that's enough good stuff for one posting.

Now, I share the not-good stuff -- although this first item qualifies as far more serious than simply "not-good":

According to a report from Yediot Aharonot, Israeli security officials are saying that Iran plans to deploy warships in the Mediterranean Sea, Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.

Iranian officials have announced plans to deploy warships to areas near Israel and to dock at a Syrian port for a year. An Israeli official says this move would be a "serious provocation," and would be considered "a change in the situation" that "Israel will know how to deal with."

Reports coming out following this report indicate that Iranian ships may be headed for the Suez Canal.


Some of the student leaders of Egypt's popular "democratic" uprising -- from the "April 6 Movement" -- are calling for Egypt to cut off gas supplies to Israel. The gas is supplied as part of our peace treaty with Egypt, because we returned the Sinai, which is where the gas reserves are located.


Richard Falk, that despicable anti-Israel UN special investigator, has said that the International Court of Justice in the Hague should issue an advisory opinion on Israeli acts of "colonialism," "apartheid," and "ethnic cleansing" in the West Bank. This recommendation is included in a report which he will be delivering to the UN Human Rights Council next month.

Admitting that he was recommending strong "emotive" language, he said he thought it was necessary, in order to highlight Israel's denial of Palestinian rights.

It's important to remember that the Human Rights Council is one of the most vociferously anti-Israel agencies within an anti-Israel UN.


Hezbollah's Nasrallah, mocking our new IDF Chief of Staff Gantz, said that "I want to assure you and tell the Israelis that they should be careful because the blood of Imad Mugniyeh will not go to waste."
It is now the third anniversary of the assassination of Mugniyeh, a key Hezbollah military commander.

This week Israeli embassies have been on high alert because of possible retaliatory terrorists acts and four embassies were closed (i.e., not open for business during this interval) because of concrete warnings regarding terrorist attacks. No information has been provided on where these embassies are located.


Please see Barry Rubin's latest piece, "What is the Real Meaning of Egypt's Revolution?"

"'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.

"Let's remember something that nobody wants to hear right now. The revolution in Egypt succeeded because the army didn't want President Hosni Mubarak any more...

"...without stinting the courage and efforts of the urban, middle-class, young, Facebook crowd, the Muslim Brotherhood had more to do with this event than Western observers realize. It was in close touch with the Facebook crowd and knew what was going on at every moment. It was not caught by surprise but simply held back to avoid committing itself to a devastating defeat that would end in harsh repression. (Emphasis added)

"...history has not ended in the Middle East. The Muslim Brotherhood will continue to maneuver patiently for power. The military will set limits and implement them. All the radical dictatorships and movements that hate America, the West, Israel, and real democracy are still working all-out (and far more cleverly than their Western opponents) around the clock.

"If one side is sophisticated and realistic while the other engages in fantasies, who do you expect to win?"


© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.

see my website

Saar: No More Lies, We're Keeping Hevron

Maayana Miskin
A7 News

Israel must make it clear that Jews will remain in the city of Hevron, Education Minister Gidon Saar (Likud) said Tuesday. “We must not mislead the Arabs into thinking that one day there will be no Jews living in Kiryat Arba and Hevron,” he said during a tour of Judea.

A Jewish presence in the Biblical city is crucial “in order to maintain our ability to visit and pray in the Tomb of the Patriarchs, one of the most important places to the Jewish people,” Saar explained.

He said he would act to bring all Israeli students to visit Hevron, particularly the Tomb of the Patriarchs. Currently, all Israeli students are to visit Jerusalem at least once during their school career. During his visit to Efrat, Hevron and other Israeli towns in Judea, the minister dedicated a children's science-ecology center in Efrat and a new school at the Herzog College of Har Etzion Yeshiva in Alon Shvut for intellectually gifted grade-school children living in the area. After enjoying the gifted youngsters' creativity exhibition and talents, Saar also faced tough questions over his party's policies.


[Ed. Minister talks to student at school for gifted children] ]]]} }}]

Arutz Sheva's Hebrew-language news service asked Saar what he had to say to Jews in Judea who suffered under the Likud-led Judea and Samaria construction freeze. “We are in a very difficult and complex situation, diplomatically speaking,” Saar answered. “I am convinced that we know how to deal with the problems that stand before us regarding Jewish settlement.”

The first step Israel should take is to renew construction in majority-Jewish regions of Judea and Samaria, known as “settlement blocs,” Saar continued. “It's absurd that there are no land sales in the cities of Efrat, Ariel, Maaleh Adumim, and Beitar Illit, at a time when building is taking place in Jewish villages in Judea and Samaria,” he said.

Efrat has been waiting eight years for government approval to market 1,000 housing units. The Housing Ministry prepared the groundwork for the housing, spending tens of millions of shekels in the process, yet the government now refuses to give the project final authorization.

Saar was also asked to explain the difference between the Likud's platform and that of opposition party Kadima, whose party head, MK Tzipi Livni, visited Judea several weeks earlier. Livni also said during her visit that Israel should allow construction in settlement blocs.

“You would not want to be shown the difference between Likud and Kadima,” Saar warned. “Just the most recent documents revealed show that Kadima is willing to give up the very heart of Jerusalem.”

Recently published documents show that the Olmert administration had been prepared to give Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem to the Palestinian Authority, and to put the Old City and the Temple Mount under international control.

Egypt's Next Crisis



Until just a few years ago, Egypt’s ruling military elite was able to “borrow” money from Egyptian banks with no intention of paying it back. President Hosni Mubarak’s son Gamal changed all that, reforming and privatizing the system in order to build an empire for himself. For the first time in centuries, Egypt’s financial position was not entirely dependent upon outside forces. Now, Mubarak and his reform-minded son are out of the picture and Egypt has a budget deficit and a government debt load that are teetering on the edge of sustainability. Analysis

Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit called on the international community Feb. 15 to help speed Egypt’s economic recovery. Such foreign assistance will certainly be essential, but only in part because of the economic disruptions caused by the recent protests. Even more important, the political machinations that led to the protests indicate Egypt’s economic structure is about to revert to a dependence upon outside assistance.

Egypt is one of the most undynamic economies of the world. The Nile River Delta is not navigable at all, and it is crisscrossed by omnipresent irrigation canals in order to make the desert bloom. This imposes massive infrastructure costs upon Egyptian society at the same time it robs it of the ability to float goods cheaply from place to place. This mix of high capital demands and low capital generation has made Egypt one of the poorest places in the world in per capita terms. There just hasn’t been money available to fund development.

As a result, Egypt lacks a meaningful industrial base and is a major importer of consumer goods, machinery, vehicles, wood products (there are no trees in the desert) and foodstuffs (Egypt imports roughly half of its grain needs). Egypt’s only exports are a moderate amount of natural gas and fertilizer, a bit of oil, cotton products and some basic metals.

The bottom line is that even in the best of times Egypt faces severe financial constraints — its budget deficit is normally in the range of 7 percent to 9 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) — and with the recent political instability, these financial pressures are rising.

The protests have presented Egypt with a cash-crunch problem. At $13 billion in annual revenues, tourism is the country’s most important income stream. The recent protests shut down tourism completely — at the height of the tourist season, no less. The Egyptian government estimates the losses to date at about $1.5 billion. Military rule — tentatively expected to last for the next six months — is going to crimp tourism income for the foreseeable future. Simultaneously, the government wants to put together a stimulus package to get things moving again. Details are almost nonexistent at present, but a good rule of thumb for stimulus is that it must be at least 1 percent of GDP — a bill of about $2 billion. So assuming that everything goes back to normal immediately — which is unlikely — the government would have to come up with $3.5 billion from somewhere.

Which brings us to financing the deficit, and here we get into some of the political intrigue that toppled former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

One cannot simply walk out of Egypt, so since the time of the pharaohs the Egyptian leadership has commanded a captive labor pool. This phenomenon meant more than simply having access to very cheap labor (free in ancient times); it also meant having access to captive money. Just as the pharaohs exploited the population to build the pyramids, the modern-day elite — the military leadership — exploited the population’s deposits in the banking system. This military elite — or, more accurately, the firms it controlled — took out loans from the country’s banks without any intention of paying them back. This practice enervated the banks in particular and the broader economy in general and contributed to Egypt’s chronic capital shortage. It also forced the government to turn to external sources of financing to operate, in particular the U.S. government, which was happy to play the role of funds provider during the final decade of the Cold War. There were many results, with high inflation, volatile living standards and overall exposure to international financial whims and moods being among the more disruptive.

Over the past 20 years, three things have changed this environment. First, as a reward for Egypt’s participation in the first Gulf War, the United States arranged for the forgiveness of much of Egypt’s outstanding foreign debt. Second, with the Cold War over, the United States steadily dialed back its economic assistance to Egypt. Since its height in 1980, U.S. economic assistance has dwindled by over 80 percent in real terms to under a half-billion dollars annually, forcing Cairo to find other ways to cover the difference (although Egypt is still the second-largest recipient of American military aid). But the final — and most decisive factor — was internal.

Mubarak’s son, Gamal, sought to change the way that Egypt did business in order to build his own corporate empire. One of the many changes he made was empowering the Central Bank to actually enforce underwriting standards at the banks. The effort began in 2004, and early estimates indicated that as many as one in four outstanding loans had no chance of repayment. By 2010 the system was largely reformed and privatized, and the military elite’s ability to tap the banks for “loans” had largely disappeared. The government was then able to step into that gap and tap the banks’ available capital to fund its budget deficit. In fact, it is this arrangement that allowed Egypt to weather the recent global financial crisis as well as it did. For the first time in centuries, Egypt’s financial position was not entirely dependent upon outside forces. The government’s total debt load remains uncomfortably high at 72 percent of GDP, but its foreign debt load is only 11 percent of GDP. The economy was hardly thriving, but economically, Egypt was certainly a more settled place. For example, Egypt now has a mortgage market, which did not exist a decade ago.

From Gamal Mubarak’s point of view, four problems had been solved. The government had more stable financing capacity, the old military guard had been weakened, the banks were in better shape, and he was able to build his own corporate empire on the redirected financial flows in the process. But these changes and others like them earned the Mubarak family the military’s ire. Mubarak and his reform-minded son are out of the picture now, and the reform effort with them. With the constitution suspended, the parliament dissolved and military rule the order of the day, it stretches the mind to think that the Central Bank will be the singular institution that will retain any meaningful policy autonomy. If the generals take the banks back for themselves, Egypt will have no choice but to seek international funds to cover its budget shortfalls. Incidentally, we do not find it surprising that now — five days after the protests ended — the banks are still closed by order of the military government.

Yet Egypt cannot simply tap international debt markets like a normal country. While its foreign debt load is small, its total debt levels are very similar to states that have faced default and/or bailout problems in the past. An 8-percent-of-GDP budget deficit and a 72-percent-of-GDP government debt load are teetering on the edge of what is sustainable. As a point of comparison, Argentina defaulted in 2001 with a 60-percent-of-GDP debt load and it had far more robust income streams. Even if Egypt can find some interested foreign investors, the cost of borrowing will be prohibitively high, and the amounts needed are daunting. Plainly stated, Cairo needed to come up with $16 billion annually just to break even before the crisis and the likely banking changes that will come along with it.

Why Israel loses PR war

Op-ed: Schizophrenic Israeli position led to paralysis of thinking, self-destructive withdrawals

Moshe Dann

For two decades Israeli government policy regarding "settlements" – the right of Jews to live in Judea, Samaria, Gaza eastern Jerusalem and Golan - and the "two-state plan" - the right of the Palestinians to establish a state on all, or nearly all of that same territory - has been confused, contradictory and inconsistent.

This schizophrenic position has led to paralysis of thinking, self-destructive unilateral withdrawals and concessions that allowed the continuation of terrorism, the emergence of a quasi- Palestinian state, and Israel's increasing isolation and de-legitimization. Efforts to combat de-legitimization, therefore, are crippled by Israeli government policy which (1) has refused to assert the legal and historical rights of Jews in Judea and Samaria; (2) has refused to annex Area C of Judea and Samaria, in which all of the settlements reside, over 300,000 Jews and a relatively small minority of Arabs; (3) supports the establishment of a second Arab Palestinian state based more or less on the 1949 Armistice lines; (4) has implemented restrictions and freezes on Jewish building in Area C; (5) wantonly destroys Jewish homes in Judea, Samaria and Gaza; (6) equates Zionism with Palestinianism.

On one hand, Israeli governments have virtually conceded Jewish legal and historical rights in these areas. On the other hand, all Israeli governments have permitted and supported Jewish building in these areas. This has encouraged BDS movements that condemn and delegitimize Israel for policies which are controversial, even in Israel.

The failure of the Israeli government to clarify its policy and present a consistent position has created a vacuum where friends and foes, Jews and non-Jews, Zionists and non-Zionists place the burden of blame on "settlers" and "settlements." This is reflected in the media, which identify those who oppose settlements as the "peace camp" – implying that supporters of settlements favor war.

Given the Israeli government's ambivalence on this issue, its unilateral withdrawals and offers to remove all or most settlements, opposition to all settlements by the UN and the international community, and wide support for the PLO and the PA, it is no wonder that the Palestinian position has been consistent: "No to Israel as a Jewish state, no to interim borders, no to land swaps;" no to giving up claims to eastern Jerusalem, and no to canceling the "Palestinian right of return.”
Ambiguity creates confusion

Since Israel cannot make up its mind about the status of Judea and Samaria, why should anyone agree to any Jewish Israeli claims? As long as Israeli governments continue to support the two-state plan, rendering settlements as bargaining chips towards a future peace agreement, the question of who is entitled to Judea and Samaria has already been decided; what remains is only the timing and the price to be paid.

This has created a situation where Israel appears to be haggling over technical problems of quantity, preempting ideological, legal and moral entitlement issues. Hence, BDS campaigns, which reflect opposition to settlements ("the occupation"), are not inconsistent with the Israeli government's own ambivalence.

Efforts to isolate, condemn and delegitimize Israel because of its policies in Judea and Samaria, therefore gain traction from Israel's silence or unwillingness to state clearly to whom this area belongs. The more the government refuses to defend the rights of Jews to live in Judea and Samaria, the weaker is its ability to defend itself against BDS and de-legitimization campaigns.

The belief that in order to defend Israel's claim to its pre-1967 contours, Israel must concede all or most settlements, including (according to the international community) those in eastern Jerusalem and the Golan, undermines support for those settlements. The issue becomes not if, but when.

Hence, Israeli governments created this trap, a no-win situation directed by the architects of the Oslo Agreements and perpetuated by Israeli government since, based on the delusion that the conflict between Israel and the Arabs is primarily territorial – not existential. As long as this myth persists, Israel will lose, and in the process, fuels de-legitimization campaigns.

Israel's dilemma is that it cannot abandon settlements in Judea and Samaria without surrendering the most important Jewish historical sites in the world and relinquishing vital strategic positions, especially secure, defendable and recognized borders that are the basis for ending the conflict.

Opposing settlements in order to create another Palestinian state, therefore, enables and encourages BDS and de-legitimization campaigns by accepting the premise of those campaigns: "the occupation" is illegal and immoral.

The more Israel promotes another Palestinian state, the more its position in Judea and Samaria becomes untenable, and the more that issue will be used to delegitimize Israel. If the areas of settlement in Judea and Samaria don't belong to us, what are we doing there?

Israel needs to act in its own self-interest, for its survival. Ambiguity only creates confusion; a sign of weakness, it invites derision.

The author is a historian, writer and journalist living in Israel

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

MK Arieh Eldad from Jerusalem‏

PLEASE SIGN: A Democratic Jordan is Palestine

We call upon the Kingdom of Jordan to declare itself the democratic nation state of the Palestinian people. 80% of Jordan's population are disenfranchised Palestinians and this declaration would be a decisive contribution to finally ending the Arab-Israeli conflict.


Shalom to you from Jerusalem,

The Government of Israel and Prime Minister Netanyahu are under pressure to accept and implement "the two-state solution", which means the creation of a Palestinian State in Judea, Samaria and Gaza.

It was the late Prime Minister Rabin who wrote: "A Palestinian State can be created only on the ruins of the State of Israel."

We are concerned that the only political plan to deal with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - is the plan that endangers the very existence of Israel. We are concerned that the only political plan to deal with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - is the plan that endangers the very existence of Israel.

But we also should remember that there is a Palestinian State that already exists. Jordan is Palestine, at least – de facto. More than 70% of its citizens are Palestinians. Jordan was created on 3/4 of the territory which was originally assigned for a Jewish Homeland by the League of Nations 90 years ago. Britain was granted "the Mandate on Palestine" in order to establish the Jewish Homeland. In 1922 Britain gave 3/4 of this territory to the Arabs and created the Trans Jordan Arab Emirate, that became The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in 1946

We truly believe that Jordan is the Palestinian National State, and we are looking forward to your support in leading the world to recognition of this fact.

On May 25th 2011, Jordanian Independence Day, we are going to submit petitions to as many Jordanian embassies as possible, all over the world, calling King Abdulla the 2nd to announce that Jordan is the Palestinian National State.

Will you be ready to support this initiative, spreading the petition in your country and organizing a delegation to submit it to the Jordanian Embassy on May 25th, 2011?

To sign the petition – please open the attached link:

Sincerely yours

Arieh Eldad MK

Chairman of Hatikva Party, the Knesset, Jerusalem.

Eran Shilo
Member on management of Hatikva party.

Op-ed: Thomas Friedman, Court Jew

MK Yaakov Katz
A7 News

In his New York Times columns, Thomas Friedman the Jewish columnist, carries on an ongoing feud with the Jewish state. His articles on the current Egyptian crisis are no exception.

It doesn’t take much intellectual prowess or professional psychological training to realize that Mr. Friedman is actually attacking and denying his very own Judaism. Playing the role of the negative exemplars of the stereotypical Diaspora court Jew, he is filled with self-loathing, ashamed of his origins - and aims to ensure that this is common knowledge.

From his position, this is understandable. The steady Jewish population growth of 6% in eastern Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, presently nearing 650,000, actively threatens his hopes to shrink the Jewish state to narrow ghetto proportions. Those borders were aptly described by Israel’s eloquent foreign minister and UN ambassador, the late Abba Eban, who said that the pre-1967 state in its narrow borders “has for us something of a memory of Auschwitz." Facts, such as the recent political developments in the Middle East, including the overthrow of regimes and the obvious fragility of Arab leaders, do not confuse Thomas Friedman. Had we hearkened to this prophet’s exhortations over the years, we would have put our futures in the hands of these same Arab rulers. That may be what Mr. Friedman is hoping for, a continuation of the Diaspora life led by our forebears for thousands of years.

Friedman attempts to call on the world to force the Jewish people and its state to return to the atmosphere of the days of submission and oppression in the ghetto. After all, he makes his home in the ghetto of a foreign land, lives as a Diaspora Jew, and perhaps would like to get us to join him.

The Jewish people, however, have healthy instincts, an inherited survival wish. A people who knew how to go from the valley of the shadow of death into light, from exile to redemption, and succeeded in building an independent, democratic state after 2,000 years of Gentile persecution, is wise enough to ignore the deleterious advice of Thomas Friedman, court Jew.

However, when the day comes that Mr. Friedman joins us in our mutual homeland—and if he doesn’t, perhaps his children will—I promise to welcome him with open arms, and to help him make his home in our ancestral land, near Hevron, Shechem, or Ramallah.

Muslim Brotherhood Seeks Global Islamic Conquest

Oren Kessler

Pundits have portrayed the Brotherhood as uncompromising zealots or beneficent providers of social services that long-deprived Egyptians desperately need.But a translation released Tuesday of a 1995 book by the movement's fifth official leader sheds light on just how Egypt's Brotherhood views itself and its mission. Jihad is the Way is the last of a five-volume work, "The Laws of Da'wa" by Mustafa Mashhur, who headed the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt from 1996-2002.

They detail the Brotherhood's objectives of advancing the global conquest of Islam and reestablishing the Islamic Caliphate, the public and private duties of jihad and the struggle Muslims must wage against Israel. Elsewhere, it exhorts Muslims, "Know your status, and believe firmly that you are the masters of the world, even if your enemies desire your degradation." The movement differs from international terror groups like Al-Qaida only in tactics, but not goals . "One should know that it is not necessary that Muslims repel every attack or damage caused by the enemies of Allah immediately, but only when ability and the circumstances are fit it."

Jihad is the Way explicitly endorses the reinstatement of a worldwide Islamic regime. "It should be known that jihad and preparation towards jihad are not only for the purpose of fending off assaults and attacks of Allah's enemies from Muslims, but are also for the purpose of realizing the great task of establishing an Islamic state and strengthening the religion and spreading it around the world."

Mashhur wrote, "The problems of the Islamic world - such as in Palestine, Afghanistan, Syria, Eritrea or the Philippines - are not issues of territories and nations, but of faith and religion. They are the problems of Islam and all Muslims, and their resolution cannot be negotiated and bargained by recognizing the enemy's right to the Islamic land he stole, and therefore there is no other option but jihad for Allah, and this is why jihad is the way."

US have Freed Islamist Terrorist - Pollard still in Jail!

An American jihadist, Mohammed Junaid Babar, who set up the terrorist training camp where the leader of the 2005 London suicide bombers learned how to manufacture explosives, has been quietly released after serving only four and a half years of a possible 70-year sentence. (This is another amazing exhibit of the US hypocrisy, if not governmentally sponsored anti-Semitism!)

PA cabinet changes show Abbas is freaking out


Abbas is worried that the tsunami that swept the Tunisian and Egyptian presidents from office would sooner or later hit Ramallah.

In the eyes of many Palestinians, Abbas is not much different than Hosni Mubarak and Zine al-Abidin Bin Ali. Like the two ousted dictators, Abbas has also been accused of being a “puppet” in the hands of the Americans.

The events in Tunisia and Egypt have taught Abbas that US backing alone is not a guarantor for the survival of his regime in the West Bank. He knows that without the support of a majority of Palestinians, he could end up facing a popular revolt.

Arab leaders who failed to draw the conclusion from the downfall of the Bin Ali regime have finally woken up. The intifada that ended Mubarak’s authoritarian rule has shown them that the Arab masses are serious in their demand for reform and democracy.Abbas is perhaps one of the few, if not only, Arab leaders who stand to lose most from Mubarak’s departure from the scene. For many years, the Palestinian president considered Mubarak to be a strong political ally in the Arab and international arenas.

Mubarak supported Abbas against Hamas, Israel, the US and hostile Arab and Islamic regimes such as Syria and Iran.

The downfall of Mubarak’s regime is a “catastrophe” for Abbas and an award for Hamas, admitted a senior Fatah official.

Almost immediately after it was announced that Mubarak had stepped down, Abbas convened PLO leaders in Ramallah and declared his intention to hold long overdue presidential and parliamentary elections by September. Earlier, Abbas had also announced plans to hold municipal elections in July. On Monday, he went a step further by asking Fayyad to form a new cabinet.

All these measures are seen as an attempt on the part of Abbas to prevent the anti-government tsunami from reaching the Mukata “presidential” compound in Ramallah. However, it’s hard to see how Abbas would be able to hold the elections given the fact that Hamas and other Palestinian groups have announced that they would not only boycott the vote, but would also prevent it from taking place in the Gaza Strip.

It’s also hard to see how the replacing of a number of cabinet ministers would help Abbas and Fayyad, especially in light of the grave damage that has been caused to the PA leadership’s credibility with the recent publication of the leaked “Palestine Papers” by Al-Jazeera.

Had Abbas called for new elections and reshuffled his cabinet before the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, he would have scored more points. But the fact that he’s doing all these things only now reinforces the impression that Abbas, like most Arab leaders these days, is freaking out.

Ted Belman

"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.


Then a housekeeping matter:

The URL I provided yesterday for the Raman analysis of the Egyptian situation does not work, which is strange, because the page exists.

To find it, go to and scroll down to the posting for February 11. It's called "Egypt: An Uncertain Transition."


Well, the military council has been in place in Egypt for three days now, and it's still in control -- as well we might expect it to be. Tahrir Square is being cleared of protestors by the military police; union gatherings and other group meetings that might foment unrest or promote strikes are being forbidden.

Repeatedly the message being reinforced via news reports is that Field Marshal Tantawi is committed to the status quo.

There is some criticism here of his refusal over the past few years to crack down on weapons smuggling into Gaza. However, as he is described as "change-resistant" and dedicated to stability in the nation, he is not going to sabotage the peace treaty with Israel or support sudden changes that open the door to radicals.

It is my understanding that he has a cordial relationship with Defense Minister Barak. Remember that Tantawi has been functioning as defense minister, and has had occasion to meet with Barak.


I think it's important here to clarify a point: Those in Egypt who do support the peace treaty with Israel do so because it serves Egyptian needs, not because of an innate reluctance to attack us, or an even middling affection for Israel. We all know that the peace is a cold peace.

Egypt is a miserably poor country, with the poverty having contributed to the recent uprising. A war is a costly, terribly disruptive business, and Egypt cannot afford it -- especially since the uprising. What is more, the considerable largesse bestowed on Egypt by the US -- totaling more than $1 billion per year -- depends on maintenance of the treaty.

Any Egyptian leader who seeks stability for his nation will be loathe to cancel the peace treaty.


That does not mean no one advocates for cancellation. Certainly radicals, and most notably Muslim Brotherhood, do.

And, it seems, so does Ayman Nour, chairman of Egypt's Ghad party. He's not a member of the Brotherhood, and his party is described as secular and liberal, but at very least he thinks the peace treaty is outmoded and needs to be renegotiated. "The Camp David Accords are finished."

And so we should not be too complacent. Nour may be a candidate for the presidency when (and if) elections are finally held; although there is little indication that he is likely to be a winner, we don't really know what will happen.


Yet another aside of interest: From those in Egypt protesting the status quo, I've picked up comments about the "unfairness" of the peace treaty because it requires a demilitarized Sinai. This was, and is, essential, as it provides us with a buffer against attack. Yet apparently some on the left are chafing at this, even referring to the terms of the treaty as "colonialism" (a radical buzz word).


There was some negative response here when the Israeli government recently gave permission for some hundreds of Egyptian troops to be stationed at the south of the Sinai. The main reason permission was granted was because of unrest among the Sinai Bedouins, who are not committed to Egypt and foster terrorism. This entire situation has become quite worrisome; Egyptian police have vacated some of their stations in the Sinai because of Bedouin attacks.

Particularly in light of the unstable situation, we would have to be totally crazy to allow more Egyptian troops into the Sinai -- and I do not believe we will. And certainly it is exceedingly dubious that we could, or would, enter the Sinai to take on some of these Bedouins -- for this would badly upset that Egyptian status quo and threaten the peace treaty. So what we're left with is a large area adjacent to the Negev that is not sufficiently policed and will become a nest for terrorism.

The fence being erected at the Negev-Sinai border to prevent infiltration will help somewhat. But it won't be completed for over a year, and won't stop smuggling of weapons or the shooting of rockets, in any event.

The main target from the Sinai is Eilat, a major tourist attraction with huge high-class hotels.


Majed El-Shafie was once an Egyptian Muslim, but converted to Christianity -- for which he was tortured and condemned to death. Now he lives in Toronto, and heads an Egyptian human rights organization, One Free World International. Rhonda Spivak, Canadian journalist, had a sizeable article about him today in the JPost.

Shafie's organization monitors human rights violations against Christians in Egypt and other Arab lands. In all, he has thousands of people inside of Egypt who report to him on the situation on the ground.


Shafie says that "the Muslim Brotherhood has used the demonstrations in Egypt to advance its agenda. They are going street to street to get people out...They want a hand in the new government. They are being more aggressive, more active are coming out in full power."

The Muslim Brotherhood is popular with the poor people of Egypt “because they provide the basic food and necessities to them... The Muslim Brotherhood is very wealthy. They own supermarkets in Egypt and they get funds from countries such as Iran and Saudi Arabia."

Shafie believes that if elections are held soon, the Brotherhood would probably come to power.

“I am concerned that under the current circumstances, Mubarak’s abrupt departure will create a political vacuum, which will be filled by Islamic extremists. The West appears to be embracing Mohammed ElBaradei, a former head of the UN nuclear inspection agency, as a replacement for Mubarak. This is of serious concern as ElBaradei, in addition to betraying heavy anti-Israel sentiment through his actions at the UN agency, is communicating with the Muslim order to actively involve the Brotherhood in the future political landscape of Egypt.”

ElBaradei, Shafie notes, referred to the Muslim Brotherhood as “an integral part of Egyptian society”... and has called the Brotherhood “a conservative group that favors secular democracy and human rights.”

“This is a very serious matter and we cannot, under any circumstances, allow the Muslim Brotherhood to increase its influence in Egypt. To do so would be to condemn the Egyptian people, from Christians and other religious minorities to moderate and secular Muslims, to a regime of oppression and religious tyranny that will make Mubarak’s repressive regime seem like a beacon of freedom.”

"Democracy," he declares, "can’t occur tomorrow."

"The regime needs to be supported until Suleiman can reform the constitution and educate the people, and allow freedom of the media, freedom of speech and work toward a free election.”

He believes there should be an election in five years:

"Democracy in Egypt is an infant – it needs to learn to crawl before it can learn to walk.

“Thirty percent of the population is illiterate – they can’t read and write their own name – you can’t give them absolute democracy in the beginning, because it’s easy for them to turn to extremism. The United States and other countries should support Omar Suleiman. We need slow change.

“Democracy as we know it in the West cannot simply be transplanted into Egypt, a country that has never experienced any form of true democracy.

"Democracy cannot survive where people cannot read their own constitution. It must be taught, nurtured and brought to maturity so that it can flourish.”


He's right, he's right, he's right. We proceed at our own risk if we fail to heed this informed voice. Please share this broadly. I'm told that in the US there have been those who have picked up on Clapper's theme of the Muslim Brotherhood as secular and so there is much educational work to be done.

This is a time when contacting your elected representatives in Congress would be a good idea. Share the link to the entire article, and the summary I provide. Implore them to do their very best to keep the Obama administration on track with regard to the situation: The Muslim Brotherhood should have no role in transition, and elections should be delayed until the people can learn the rudiments of democracy.

For your Congresspersons:

For your Senators:


The entire region -- Yemen, Jordan, Algeria, etc. -- is in a state of flux and unrest. And so, as I've mentioned before, the PA is feeling the heat too:

Saeb Erekat, chief PLO negotiator, has announced his resignation. The reason is gave is the fact that material damaging to the PLO/PA that was publicized by Al-Jazeera had been stolen from his office. He thus felt responsible. It's difficult not to wonder if there isn't more behind this story.

Meanwhile, the PA Cabinet has resigned, at the request of President Salam Fayyad, who will be selecting new ministers as part of reform within the PA.

And the PA has announced upcoming elections for president, possibly as early as September. Abbas says he won't run again. Naturally, Hamas is saying, not in Gaza.


I feel a bit as I've been neglecting happenings within Israel of late. But the information I've been providing is of such import that it has to have priority. Perhaps things will quiet enough soon for me to be able to focus a bit more on Israel.

Here I wish to make just one announcement of significance:

Lt. General Benny Gantz was officially appointed as the 20th IDF Chief of the General Staff today, replacing a retiring Lt. General Gabi Ashkenazi. The unrest in our part of the world makes this position one of particular importance now. The IDF must be strong, focused and prepared -- and all of this calls for the very best in leadership.

The General, among his several positions, has been a commander of the forces securing Operation Shlomo, bringing Ethiopian Jews to Israel; Commander of the Paratroopers Brigade; Commander of the Liaison Unit with Lebanon (and the last IDF commander to leave Lebanon); Commander of the Judea and Samaria Division (during the second intifada); and Commander of the IDF Northern Command.

He also served as an IDF military attache in the US. He is a graduate of the Command and Staff College and the National Security College and a US Military Special Forces course, and holds a Masters degree in political science.

Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, was here for two days and met with Gantz.

" G-d should watch over him," Mullen said. "He will be good for Israel and the region."


© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.

see my website