Friday, September 29, 2006
To read bin Laden's communiques is to be reminded of Admiral Yamamato assuring his peers that his years in the U.S. in the 1920s taught him that America, despite its fancy cars and skyscrapers, simply could not match the courage of the chosen Japanese.
Just as it was idle in the middle of World War II to speculate how many Germans, Japanese, or Italians really accepted the silly hatred of Hitler, Mussolini, or Tojo, so too it is a vain enterprise to worry over how many Muslims follow or support al-Qaeda. Most people have no ideology, but simply accommodate themselves to the prevailing sense of an agenda's success or failure. It doesn't matter whether Middle Easterners actually accept the tenets of bin Laden's worldview - not if think[ing] he is on the ascendancy, can bring them a sense of restored pride, and humiliate the Jews and the West on the cheap.
Islam and the Pope - Thomas L. Friedman
We need to stop insulting Islam. What is insulting is the politically correct, kid-gloves view of how to deal with Muslims that is taking root in the West today. It goes like this: "Hush! Don't say anything about Islam! If you say anything critical or questioning about Muslims, they'll burn down your house. They are not capable of a civil, rational dialogue about problems in their faith community." Now that is insulting. It's an attitude full of contempt and self-censorship, but that is the attitude of Western elites today.
I have to admit I am confused as to what Islam stands for today. I don't get it. How can Muslims blow up other Muslims on their most holy day of the year - in mosques! - and there is barely a peep of protest in the Muslim world, let alone a million Muslim march? Yet Danish cartoons or a papal speech lead to violent protests. What matters is not what Muslims tell us they stand for. What matters is what they tell themselves, in their own languages, and how they treat their own.
(New York Times, 29Sep06)
A national unity government is a clever idea, but the whole exercise [is like] a magician wooing an audience desperately hoping to suspend disbelief. (International Herald Tribune)
Is Financial Aid from the West Supporting Palestinian Terrorists?
Jonathan D. Halevi
In order to encourage donating countries to transfer as much money as possible to finance its budget, the PA is striving to magnify the image of a "humanitarian crisis" in the territories. However, without proper supervision, the West's financial aid might directly or indirectly find its way to funding Palestinian terror.
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
The apparent willingness of a senior member of the Saudi royal family to meet with Prime Minister Olmert in Jordan earlier this month was an indication of just how threatened the Saudi monarchy feels. Despite denials from both Olmert and the Saudi royals, diplomatic officials in Jerusalem have confirmed that a high-level meeting between senior officials from the countries did indeed take place. The Saudis are worried about a nuclear Iran, Shi'ite extremism, and al-Qaeda no less than Israel is.
JUDY DEMPSEY and MARK LANDLERA
German opera house canceled performances of Mozart's "Idomeneo" after a scene that depicts the severed head of the Prophet Muhammad prompted an anonymous threat.
(New York Times)
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Washington has not yet seriously tackled the economic dimension of the current Iranian nuclear crisis, or explored the financial levers by which Iran can be confronted.
Iran's first vulnerability is its dependence on foreign investment. The regime in Tehran currently needs $1 billion a year to maintain current oil output levels... By complicating the flow of foreign investment into Iran, the U.S. and its allies can force the regime to draw down its hard-currency reserves, reducing the resources that it has available to forge ahead with its nuclear program - or to fund radicalism in the region.
Iran's second weakness stems from its centralized economic hierarchy. The vast majority of the regime's wealth remains concentrated in the hands of a very small number of people.
Far and away the biggest chink in Iran's economic armor is its reliance on foreign gasoline. 40% of gasoline in Iran now comes from foreign sources. A comprehensive gas embargo could quickly wreak havoc on Iran's industrial sectors.
Instead of relying on the UN, the White House should be thinking creatively about an economic "coalition of the willing" capable of implementing the specific financial levers that are most likely to alter Iranian behavior, and of doing so without further delay.
(Wall Street Journal, 26Sep06)
Thursday, September 21, 2006
For videobites of the rally go to:
Video: Israel Solidarity Rally in Front of UN (One Jerusalem)
It was the first time the U.S. had supported the idea of a Palestinian government that included Hamas.
Israeli diplomats were surprised by U.S. support for a Hamas-Fatah government. Senior sources in Jerusalem said Israel would not recognize Hamas, nor any organization of which Hamas was a member.
Courting Terrorists - Zalman Shoval
[J]oining a coalition with other, more moderate parties, Hitler and his henchmen soon subverted the new government and grabbed absolute power. One important lesson is that whenever a coalition is formed between moderates and anti-democratic extremists, it is only a matter of time until the extremists take over. This is what's probably going to happen soon on the Palestinian political scene, where Mahmoud Abbas and the Hamas terrorists have announced the imminent formation of a national unity government.
Mubarak's Son Proposes Nuclear Plan - Michael Slackman and Mona El-Naggar
Gamal Mubarak...proposed Tuesday that his country pursue nuclear energy, drawing strong applause from the nation's political elite. Raising the topic of Egypt's nuclear ambitions at a time of heightened tensions over Iran's nuclear activity was seen as a calculated effort to raise the younger Mubarak's profile and to build public support through a show of defiance toward Washington, political analysts and foreign affairs experts said.
(New York Times)
The Pope Was Right - George Weigel
The pope said that irrational violence aimed at innocent men, women, and children "is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the [human] soul." If adherents of certain currents of thought in contemporary Islam insist that the suicide bombing of innocents is an act pleasing to God, then they must be told that they are mistaken.
We know that, in the past, Christians used violence to advance Christian purposes. The Catholic Church has publicly repented of such distortions of the Gospel and has developed a deep theological critique of the misunderstandings that led to such episodes.
By quoting from a robust exchange between a medieval Byzantine emperor and a learned Islamic scholar, Benedict XVI was trying to illustrate the possibility of a tough-minded but rational dialogue between Christians and Muslims.
(Los Angeles Times)
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
New Yorkers have, God knows, welcomed plenty of truly disagreeable dignitaries to our shores...
And now we have Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran...
[He] assert[s] that Iran is divinely entitled to secret nuclear programs that UN inspectors aren't permitted to inspect. If the UN wants to give a speaking invite to a man who regularly spits in its face, well, there's not much to be done about diplomatic courtesies. We're stuck with Ahmadinejad. We try to be polite. Welcome to New York, you medieval goon.
(New York Daily News)
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Radical clerics from Qatar to Qom have called, variously, for a "day of anger" or for worshipers to "hunt down" the pope and his followers.
We can all unite in our support for freedom of speech and of the press. And we can also unite, loudly, in our condemnation of violent, unprovoked attacks on churches, embassies, and elderly nuns.
Nothing the pope has ever said comes even close to matching the vitriol, extremism, and hatred that pour out of the mouths of radical imams and fanatical clerics every day, all across Europe and the Muslim world, almost none of which ever provokes any Western response at all.
Maybe it's time that it should...
The West Should Be Free To Criticize Islam -Daniel Pipes
[T]he Muslim uproar has a goal: to prohibit criticism of Islam by Christians and thereby to impose Shariah norms on the West.
Should Westerners accept this central tenet of Islamic law, others will surely follow.
(New York Sun)
AND THE IRONIC TITLE OF THE WEEK:
Pope implies Islam a violent religion ... Muslims bomb churches
(Red State blog)
Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah is showing clear signs of "dejection, melancholy and depression," according to the editors of the Lebanese daily al-Safir, who are counted among his most steadfast supporters. Nasrallah is worried about not being able to continue the armed resistance...
There are already signs that Hizballah has started moving its military equipment from the south toward the Lebanese Bekaa Valley. In other words, Nasrallah understands that the south has ceased to be "Hizballahstan."
(Jerusalem Report/Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
Shock and Awe in Lebanon - William M. Arkin
I just returned from a week touring Beirut and southern Lebanon, and from visiting northern Israel. In Beirut, the destruction was efficient and impressive. The destruction in Israel, on the other hand, was random and scattered. When Hizballah rockets were fired on Israel, landing meant success. So here is the truth: Israel did not do anything close to what it was capable of doing. Hizballah did all it could.
Monday, September 18, 2006
Friday, September 15, 2006
In the fourth stage, lasting until 2013, Al Qaeda will bring about the demise of Arab governments.
Then an Islamic caliphate can be declared, inaugurating the fifth stage of Al Qaeda’s grand plan, which will last until 2016.
The sixth phase will be a period of “total confrontation.” The now established caliphate will form an Islamic Army and will instigate a worldwide fight between the “believers” and the “non-believers.” Hussein proclaims, “The world will realize the meaning of real terrorism.” By 2020, “definitive victory” will have been achieved. Victory, according to the Al Qaeda ideologues, means that “falsehood will come to an end. . . . The Islamic state will lead the human race once again to the shore of safety and the oasis of happiness.”
New Yorker Magazine
The victor of the war on terror is far from clear, Princeton historian Bernard Lewis told a Hudson Institute conference. Lewis said he agrees with Natan Sharansky that the only real solution to defeating radical Islam is to bring freedom to the Middle East. Either "we free them or they destroy us," Lewis said.
The contention that Arabs aren't suited to democracy and that the West's best hope lies with friendly tyrants shows an ignorance of the Arabs' past and contempt for their present and future.
(New York Sun)
Follows Muslim warnings for Christian group to leave Hamas-controlled town or see violence
Palestinian gunmen today attacked and set fire to the Young Men's Christian Association headquarters in Qalqiliya, a large West Bank city controlled by Hamas.
Today's arson follows a series of warnings by the Muslim leadership of Qalqilya accusing the city's YMCA of missionary activity and demanding the Christian organization close its offices and leave town or face likely Muslim violence.
Back to School...Palestinian style. A short VideoBite that you'll want to see...prospects for peace anyone:
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
I was one of millions of Arab-Americans who did the unspeakable on 9/11: nothing.
Well, I'm sick of saying the truth only in private - that Arabs around the world, including Arab-Americans like myself, need to start holding our own culture accountable for the insane, violent actions that our extremists have perpetrated on the world at large.
It's time for all Arab-Americans, and Arabs around the world, to protest against Islamic fascism, to raise our voices - and, where necessary, our arms - until the plague of terror has been driven from the face of the earth forever.
(New York Post)
Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West
A documentary recommended by your humble Soundbiter.
For just a Soundbite, watch the trailer at the link below:
For information on how to see the whole film go to:
HILARY LEILA KRIEGER
The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs announced Tuesday that it had enlisted Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel and internationally renowned lawyers Irwin Cotler and Alan Dershowitz to its campaign to expel Iran from the United Nations.
Monday, September 11, 2006
[Blair] and President George Bush are among the only world leaders even attempting to convince free nations that they must take concerted action to defend themselves.
[T]he principle that terrorism cannot be defeated without forcing the regimes that support it either out of power or out of the terror business has not become part of the Western consensus.
[F]ormer Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry managed to write an entire op-ed stating how his party would extricate the US from being "bogged down in Baghdad, beleaguered around the world" and advocating an alternative approach to fighting terror, without even mentioning Iran.
Much of the Western debate remains caught up in the notion that it can be fought either by addressing the jihadis' "grievances," or by police actions against the terrorists themselves. Yet even Bush and Blair, who eloquently debunk these pre-9/11 approaches that failed so spectacularly, have not fully explained to the world what it will take to win.
We are at a dangerous point in this war. The danger is that the West, having defeated lesser terrorist regimes, will allow the most belligerent of them all to obtain nuclear immunity and to undo much of the progress that has been achieved to date.
Western Leaders See the Danger of Islamic Extremism, But Our Public Still Does Not - Prime Minister Tony Blair (Ha'aretz)
The first way to win a battle is to realize you're in a battle.
[F]or a president of a country to say they want to wipe another country off the face of the earth and at the same time he's trying to acquire a nuclear weapons capability - if we don't get worried about that, future historians will raise a few questions about us and about our judgment.
Friday, September 08, 2006
If Democrats win control of one or both chambers of Congress, Bush would face a political elite and public hostile to any new confrontation in the Middle East. The failure of Americans to develop bipartisan positions on issues of vital national interest plays into the hands of adventurers like Ahmadinejad.
Thursday, September 07, 2006
The song blares from seemingly every shop and car window in the Palestinian territories...
(San Jose Mercury News)
THE TITLE OF THE ARTICLE [ABOVE] SPEAKS VOLUMES...THE LINK BELOW WILL TAKE YOU TO THE SONG ITSELF...YOU DON'T HAVE TO KNOW ARABIC TO GET IT [BB]
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
The families of kidnapped soldiers...called on Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to meet them...in the wake of the prime minister's earlier announcement that Israel's eight-week-old air and sea blockade of Lebanon would end at 6 pm Thursday.
Army Radio reported that the families complained that Olmert had made a promise to them that the blockade would not be lifted before the kidnappers revealed some signs of life of the captured troops.
The families have repeatedly expressed fears that the kidnappers would attempt to smuggle the soldiers out of Lebanon.
Olmert's decision came following heavy international pressure to lift the closure, and was in direct opposition to an IDF recommendation to keep the siege in place.
Defense Minister Amir Peretz said the decision to lift the closure was made following a request by the United States.
The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University...is choosing to mark the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks by hosting Mohammad Khatami, a former president of Iran, an enemy state levying a terrorist war against America.
Khatami has been invited to speak on, of all things, "Ethics of Tolerance in the Age of Violence." The title insults the intelligence of all those who would attend. What in the world is a man who presided over the July 9, 1999, crackdown on Tehran University, where hundreds of students were arrested and tortured, doing speaking about "tolerance" at a university?
(New York Sun)
Optimism about Confronting Israel Growing among Arab Moderates after Lebanon War - Uriel Heilman
Israel's war with Hizballah in Lebanon has aroused great hope in the Arab world - that Israel can be defeated.
(New York Post)
Friday, September 01, 2006
[I]f attacking the civilian infrastructure is a war crime, then modern warfare is entirely impermissible, and terrorists have a free hand in attacking democracies and hiding from retaliation among civilians. Terrorists become de facto immune from any consequences for their atrocities.
A Mike, a Camera, But Not One Clue - Ike Seamans
If this is the future of network Middle East coverage, I, as a retired NBC correspondent and Israel bureau chief, suggest this warning be affixed when appropriate: "Correspondent Tab DeLovely just arrived at the Lebanese border. Doesn't know diddly, but spins a tantalizing tale. This may be disturbing to viewers seeking accurate news."