Sunday, November 28, 2010

Why Turkey will emerge as leader of the Muslim world

Why Turkey will emerge as leader of the Muslim world
11/24/2010 23:04

The AKP is setting the stage for a total recalibration of Turkey’s global compass.

.....Turkey is a Muslim nation by origin – a feature shared perhaps only with partitioncreated Pakistan.
Turkey was created as an exclusive Muslim homeland through war, blood and tears. Unbeknownst to many outsiders, modern Turkey emerged not as a state of ethnic Turks, but of Ottoman Muslims who faced expulsion and extermination in Russia and the Balkan states. Almost half of Turkey’s 73 million citizens descend from such survivors of religious persecution. During the Ottoman Empire’s long territorial decline, millions of Turkish and non-Turkish Muslims living in Europe, Russia and the Caucasus fled persecution and sought refuge in modern-day Turkey.

They succeeded, making Turkey a purely Muslim nation that had been born out of conflict with Christians. Religion’s saliency as ethnicity lasted into the post- Ottoman period: When modern Greece and Turkey exchanged their minority populations in 1924, Turkish- speaking Orthodox Christians from Anatolia were exchanged with Greek-speaking Muslims from Crete.

Although Ataturk emphasized the unifying power of Turkish nationalism over religious identity, Turkishness never replaced Islam; rather, both identities overlapped. Ataturk managed to overlay the country’s deep Muslim identity with secular nationalism, but Turkey retained its Muslim core.

AKP leader and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, along with his government, believe in Huntington’s clash of civilizations – only they choose to oppose the West. The AKP’s vision is shaped by Turkey’s philosopher- king, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who summarizes this position in his opus Strategic Depth, in which he writes that “Turkey’s traditionally good ties with the West... are a form of alienation” and that the AKP will correct the course of history, which has disenfranchised Muslims since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.
The AKP’s foreign-policy vision is not simply dualistic, but rather premised on Islam’s à la carte morals and selective outrage, and therein lies the real danger. One case in point is to compare the AKP’s differing stances toward Emir Kusturica and Omar al- Bashir. The former, a Bosnian film director who stood with the Yugoslav National Army as it slaughtered Bosnians in the 1990s, was recently driven out of Turkey by AKP-led protests, resulting in threats against his life – a victory for the victims of genocide in Bosnia. The latter, the Sudanese president indicted for genocide in the International Court of Justice, was gracefully hosted by the AKP in Turkey. Erdogan has said, “I know Bashir; he cannot commit genocide because Muslims do not commit genocide.”
Like their close neighbors, the Russians, Turks have moved in lockstep with the powerful political, social and foreign-policy choices that their dominant elites have ushered in.
In effect, the AKP’s steady mobilization of Turkish Muslim identity along with its close financial and ideological affinity with the nation’s new Islamist elites is setting the stage for a total recalibration of Turkey’s international compass.

The writer is a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and coauthor (with Scott Carpenter) of Nuanced Gestures: Regenerating the US-Turkey Partnership (2010).

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Issue 264 - UN Watch

Why Israel is a Rogue State

Gabriel Latner

This is a war of ideals, and the other speakers here tonight are rightfully, idealists. I'm not. I'm a realist. I'm here to win. I have a single goal this evening -- to have at least a plurality of you walk out of the “Aye” door.

I face a singular challenge -- most, if not all, of you have already made up your minds. This issue is too polarizing for the vast majority of you not to already have a set opinion. I'd be willing to bet that half of you strongly support the motion, and half of you strongly oppose it.

I want to win, and we're destined for a tie. I'm tempted to do what my fellow speakers are going to do -- simply rehash every bad thing the Israeli government has ever done in an attempt to satisfy those of you who agree with them. And perhaps they'll even guilt one of you rare undecided into voting for the proposition, or more accurately, against Israel.

It would be so easy to twist the meaning and significance of international “laws” to make Israel look like a criminal state. But that's been done to death.

It would be easier still to play to your sympathy, with personalized stories of Palestinian suffering. And they can give very eloquent speeches on those issues.

But the truth is, that treating people badly, whether they're your citizens or an occupied nation, does not make a state “rogue.” If it did, Canada, the U.S., and Australia would all be rogue states based on how they treat their indigenous populations. Britain’s treatment of the Irish would easily qualify them to wear this sobriquet. These arguments, while emotionally satisfying, lack intellectual rigor.

More importantly, I just don't think we can win with those arguments. It won't change the numbers. Half of you will agree with them, half of you won't. So I'm going to try something different, something a little unorthodox.

I'm going to try and convince the die-hard Zionists and Israel supporters here tonight, to vote for the proposition. By the end of my speech I will have presented five pro-Israel arguments that show Israel is, if not a “rogue state,” than at least “roguish.”

Let me be clear. I will not be arguing that Israel is “bad.” I will not be arguing that it doesn’t deserve to exist. I won't be arguing that it behaves worse than every other country. I will only be arguing that Israel is “rogue.”

The word “rogue” has come to have exceptionally damning connotations. But the word itself is value-neutral. The Oxford English Dictionary defines rogue as “aberrant, anomalous; misplaced, occurring (esp. in isolation) at an unexpected place or time,” while a dictionary from a far greater institution gives this definition: “behaving in ways that are not expected or not normal, often in a destructive way.”

These definitions, and others, center on the idea of anomaly -- the unexpected or uncommon. Using this definition, a rogue state is one that acts in an unexpected, uncommon or aberrant manner. A state that behaves exactly like Israel.

The first argument is statistical. The fact that Israel is a Jewish state alone makes it anomalous enough to be dubbed a rogue state: There are 195 countries in the world. Some are Christian, some Muslim, some are secular. Israel is the only country in the world that is Jewish. Or, to speak mathmo for a moment, the chance of any randomly chosen state being Jewish is 0.0051%.* In comparison the chance of a UK lotto ticket winning at least £10 is 0.017% -- more than twice as likely. Israel’s Jewishness is a statistical aberration.

The second argument concerns Israel’s humanitarianism, in particular, Israel’s response to a refugee crisis. Not the Palestinian refugee crisis -- for I am sure that the other speakers will cover that -- but the issue of Darfurian refugees. Everyone knows that what happened and is still happening in Darfur is genocide, whether or not the UN and the Arab League will call it such. (I actually hoped that Mr. Massih would be able to speak about -- he's actually somewhat of an expert on the crisis in Darfur, in fact, it's his expertise that has called him away to represent the former dictator of Sudan while he is being investigated by the ICC.)

There has been a mass exodus from Darfur as the oppressed seek safety. They have not had much luck. Many have gone north to Egypt -- where they are treated despicably. The brave make a run through the desert in a bid to make it to Israel. Not only do they face the natural threats of the Sinai, they are also used for target practice by the Egyptian soldiers patrolling the border. Why would they take the risk?

Because in Israel they are treated with compassion -- they are treated as the refugees that they are – and perhaps Israel's cultural memory of genocide is to blame. The Israeli government has even gone so far as to grant several hundred Darfurian refugees citizenship. This alone sets Israel apart from the rest of the world.

But the real point of distinction is this: The IDF sends out soldiers and medics to patrol the Egyptian border. They are sent looking for refugees attempting to cross into Israel. Not to send them back into Egypt, but to save them from dehydration, heat exhaustion, and Egyptian bullets.

Compare that to the U.S.’s reaction to illegal immigration across their border with Mexico. The American government has arrested private individuals for giving water to border crossers who were dying of thirst -- and here the Israeli government is sending out its soldiers to save illegal immigrants. To call that sort of behaviour anomalous is an understatement.

My third argument is that the Israeli government engages in an activity which the rest of the world shuns -- it negotiates with terrorists. Forget the late PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, a man who died with blood all over his hands -- they're in the process of negotiating with terrorists as we speak. Yasser Abed Rabbo is one of the lead PLO negotiators that has been sent to the peace talks with Israel. Abed Rabbo also used to be a leader of the PFLP -- an organisation of “freedom fighters” that, under Abed Rabbo’s leadership, engaged in such freedom-promoting activities as killing 22 Israeli high school students.

And the Israeli government is sending delegates to sit at a table with this man, and talk about peace. And the world applauds. You would never see the Spanish government in peace talks with the leaders of the ETA -- the British government would never negotiate with Thomas Murphy. And if President Obama were to sit down and talk about peace with Osama Bin Laden, the world would view this as insanity. But Israel can do the exact same thing -- and earn international praise in the process. That is the dictionary definition of rogue -- behaving in a way that is unexpected, or not normal.

Another part of the dictionary definition is behaviour or activity “occurring at an unexpected place or time.” When you compare Israel to its regional neighbours, it becomes clear just how roguish Israel is. And here is the fourth argument: Israel has a better human rights record than any of its neighbours. At no point in history, has there ever been a liberal democratic state in the Middle East -- except for Israel. Of all the countries in the Middle East, Israel is the only one where the LGBT community enjoys even a small measure of equality.

In Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, and Syria, homosexual conduct is punishable by flogging, imprisonment, or both. But homosexuals there get off pretty lightly compared to their counterparts in Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen, who are put to death. Israeli homosexuals can adopt, openly serve in the army, enter civil unions, and are protected by exceptionally strongly worded ant-discrimination legislation. Beats a death sentence. In fact, it beats America.

Israel’s protection of its citizens’ civil liberties has earned international recognition. Freedom House is an NGO that releases an annual report on democracy and civil liberties in each of the 195 countries in the world. It ranks each country as “Free,” “Partly Free,” or “Not Free.” In the Middle East, Israel is the only country that has earned designation as a “free” country. Not surprising given the level of freedom afforded to citizens in, say, Lebanon -- a country designated “partly free,” where there are laws against reporters criticizing not only the Lebanese government, but the Syrian regime as well. I’m hoping Ms. Booth will speak about this, given her experience working as a “journalist” for Iran.

Iran is a country given the rating of “not free,” putting it alongside China, Zimbabwe, North Korea, and Myanmar. In Iran, as Ms. Booth I hoped would have said in her speech, there is a special “Press Court” which prosecutes journalists for such heinous offences as criticizing the Ayatollah, reporting on stories damaging the “foundations of the Islamic republic,” using “suspicious (i.e., Western) sources,” or insulting Islam. Iran is the world leader in terms of jailed journalists, with 39 reporters (that we know of) in prison as of 2009. They also kicked out almost every Western journalist during the 2009 election. (I don't know if Ms Booth was affected by that.)

I guess we can’t really expect more from a theocracy. Which is what most countries in the Middle East are. Theocracies and autocracies. But Israel is the sole, the only, the rogue, democracy. Out of every country in the Middle East, only in Israel do anti-government protests and reporting go unquashed and uncensored.

I have one final argument -- the last nail in the opposition's coffin -- and it’s sitting right across the aisle. Mr. Ran Gidor’s presence here is the all evidence any of us should need to confidently call Israel a rogue state. For those of you who have never heard of him, Mr. Gidor is a political counsellor attached to Israel’s embassy in London. He’s the guy the Israeli government sent to represent them at the UN. He knows what he’s doing. And he’s here tonight. And it’s incredible.

Consider, for a moment, what his presence here means. The Israeli government has signed off, to allow one of their senior diplomatic representatives to participate in a debate on their very legitimacy. That’s remarkable.

Do you think for a minute, that any other country would do the same? If the Yale University Debating Society were to have a debate where the motion was “This house believes Britain is a racist, totalitarian state that has done irrevocable harm to the peoples of the world,” that Britain would allow any of its officials to participate? No.

Would China participate in a debate about the status of Taiwan? Never.

And there is no chance in hell that an American government official would ever be permitted to argue in a debate concerning its treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.

But Israel has sent Mr. Ran Gidor to argue tonight against a “journalist”-cum-reality TV star, and myself, a 19-year-old law student who is entirely unqualified to speak on the issue at hand.

Every government in the world should be laughing at Israel right now -- because it forgot Rule No. 1. You never add credence to crackpots by engaging with them. It's the same reason you won't see Stephen Hawking or Richard Dawkins debate David Icke. But Israel is doing precisely that. Once again, behaving in a way that is unexpected, or not normal. Behaving like a rogue state.

That's five arguments that have been directed at the supporters of Israel. But I have a minute or two left. And here's an argument for all of you – Israel wilfully and forcefully disregards international law. In 1981 Israel destroyed Osirak -- Sadam Hussein’s nuclear bomb lab. Every government in the world knew that Hussein was building a bomb. And they did nothing. Except for Israel. Yes, in doing so they broke international law and custom. But they also saved us all from a nuclear Iraq.

That rogue action should earn Israel a place of respect in the eyes of all freedom-loving peoples. But it hasn't. But tonight, while you listen to us prattle on, I want you to remember something: while you're here, Khomeini's Iran is working towards the Bomb. And if you're honest with yourself, you know that Israel is the only country that can, and will, do something about it. Israel will, out of necessity, act in a way that is the not the norm, and you'd better hope that they do it in a destructive manner. Any sane person would rather a rogue Israel than a Nuclear Iran. Except Ms. Booth.

The author, a Cambridge University law student, will be a 2011 intern with UN Watch.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Zionist Organization of America - Press Releases - ZOA: It's Troubling To See Jewish Leaders Defend.

Morton Klein and ZOA take Soros down and rebukes prominent Jews who criticized Glenn Beck for telling it like it is. All nicely sourced and much in his (Soros') own words. Must read this denunciation of Soros and defense of Beck. Also follow the internal link to hear & watch the video of Soros. 
Soros: 1944 (Nazi occupation) “was happiest time of my life … adventure … fun”
The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has expressed its concern over the strong criticism that a number of American Jewish leaders and other prominent Jews in recent days have directed at Fox broadcaster, Glenn Beck, for his criticism of Israel/U.S.-basher, financier George Soros, regarding his behavior in Nazi-occupied Budapest in 1944.
In that year, George Soros’ father obtained forged papers and bribed a government official to save his son, George, then 14 years old, by taking him in as his alleged godson under a falsified Christian identity. In this capacity, George Soros accompanied his fake godfather on his appointed rounds as a government official, confiscating property from Jews who were to be deported to their deaths in Auschwitz. George Soros later said that he felt no guilt, remorse or difficulty whatsoever for being in this situation. In fact, he wrote in a forward to his father’s book, “these ten months [of the Nazi occupation] were the happiest times of my life ... We led an adventurous life and we had fun together.”

ZOA on Soros

Jpost | Print Article

Jpost | Print Article

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Israel's academics protect the McCarthyites of Zionism - Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News

Israel's academics protect the McCarthyites of Zionism - Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News

A considerable number of instructors in these departments teach their students that Israel is the spearhead of colonialism in the Middle East, that Zionism is a racist movement that supports expulsion and that the Law of Return is racist.

In the wake of reports that were compiled in regard to anti-Zionist slants in research and instruction in a number of the country's university social sciences faculties, and after students and teachers complained about being reprimanded and insulted when they voiced their opposition, on Tuesday the Knesset Education Committee debated the issue. Lo and behold, members of the Knesset - so protective of freedom of expression of this body - claimed that the discussion is not legitimate.

The very act of discussing academia at the Knesset, argued several MKs, including Haim Oron, Nitzan Horowitz, Ahmed Tibi, Raleb Majadele and Orit Zuaretz, is a violation of academic freedom. University heads who attended the session echoed the same sentiments.
By Israel Harel

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Arabs make development strides, challenges remain

Arabs make development strides, challenges remain: UN

"Arab states make up five of the ten "top movers" in the Human Development Index (HDI) -- countries that have "made the greatest progress relative to their starting points on the HDI over the past 40 years," said a UN briefing on Arab states in the 2010 Human Development Report, which was released Thursday."

"Few Arab states have experienced in-depth democratization," it said, and though some states have multiparty systems, they "do not always equate to competitive multiparty democracy."

But, the briefing said, advances in other areas are still significant -- life expectancy in the Arab world, for instance, has risen from 51 years in 1970 to 69 years in 2010, and overall education enrollment has almost doubled to 64 percent in that period.

i was not able to find the evidence of the Palestinian Authority ("Palestinian People") as a demographic entity at this H.D.I., although it is listed as a member, so i went out and searched.

i will not speak to the depth of democratization but i will about life expectancy and overall education in the Palestinian territories from a credible source.

- life expectancy 73.945

- education 78.3%

given that the "development strides" praised for the Arab world were:

- 69 years life expectancy
- 64 percent for education

it appears the Palestinians are doing better than their Arab brethren

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

'Hizbullah making preparations to seize power in Beirut'

'Hizbullah making preparations to seize power in Beirut'
from the JP

Group conducting simulations in case of Hariri indictments, 'Asharq Alawsat' reports; retired general says group could seize power in three days.

Hizbullah is preparing to seize power in Beirut should a UN tribunal implicate the group in the assassination of the country’s former prime minister Rafik Hariri, according to Lebanese sources quoted in Lebanon’s Asharq Alawsat newspaper on Tuesday.

The report said that the group was preparing for a “zero hour scenario” and was rehearsing its moves in the capital city.

Hizbullah, Amal and other pro-Syrian groups have been in close contact, coordinating a stand-by plan to take control of Beirut and the road to the South of the city, the paper said. The Christian and Sunni areas would also be neutralized.

The sources said that the groups were already assigning possible zones – who would control which areas – in a dayafter scenario.

According to the sources, Beirut would be divided into three zones of military control, assigned to Amal, Hizbullah and the Syrian Social Nationalist Party.

Alternative plans, they said, were being prepared by Hizbullah in the event the other groups could not control their zones.

“Zero hour” in the report apparently refers to a scenario in which the Lebanese capital descends into violence and leaves a security vacuum after the Hariri tribunal publishes its report and indictments are issued.

The report quoted retired Lebanese Brig.-Gen. Amin Hattit, who is known to be close to Hizbullah, as saying that many aspects of the plans were realistic.

He said that Hizbullah’s current strategy was to prevent strife, but if the group were unable to prevent an explosion of unrest, it would exploit the situation.

“Everyone knows that the temptation will be limited geographically to areas where there is a Shi’ite majority,” Hattit added, referring to areas of Beirut, the Bekaa Valley region, and the South of the country.

He concluded that “if this scenario does take place, Hizbullah would be able to seize power in three days, or a week at most,” and that the “era of Hariri in Lebanon” would end forever.