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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 25th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Jerusalem Post Opinion

PEACE WHEN JEWS AND ARABS EDUCATE THEIR CHILDREN TOGETHER

BYREBECCA BARDACH MARCH 22, 2017 22:02

“We will have peace with the Arabs when they love their children more than they hate us.”

Golda Meir was one of my heroes growing up – a smart Jewish woman who worked tirelessly, selflessly, on behalf of the Jewish People to secure the establishment and security of the State of Israel. So I was taken by surprise when my children’s school principal, Nadia Kinani, came in to school one day deeply upset after visiting another local school, which had these oft-quoted words of Golda Meir embedded in a huge mural at the school’s entrance: “We will have peace with the Arabs when they love their children more than they hate us.”

Nadia is an Arab mother. She has spent the past 20 years of her life helping found and develop a Jewish-Arab integrated bilingual school in Jerusalem. At the time, this was almost unprecedented in Israel. She and other teachers had to innovate pedagogical approaches so students could learn each other’s languages, traditions, cultures and histories, while helping them commit to a shared future. Even now there are only nine such Jewish-Arab schools in all of Israel.

Seeing Golda Meir’s quote through Nadia’s experience made me understand the messages we absorb implicitly from it. Such messages lay the groundwork for a belief system that Jews and Arabs will never be able to live in peace. Such messages are not unique to this quote, nor only to Israeli Jewish schooling. They are part of the conflicted history Jews and Arabs in Israel inherit, and the ongoing conflict that embitters people’s lives and remains unresolved. Nonetheless, we can choose which lessons to draw from this history and what kind of future to build toward.

Jewish and Arab children attend different schools because Israel’s schools are tracked along communal lines: Jewish secular, religious and ultra-Orthodox, and Arab. While this reflects and respects the differences, and preferences, of the major populations in Israel, it means that the vast majority of children grow up with little or no contact outside of their community. Separate schooling, residential areas, media and the general lack of daily contact reinforce ignorance and mistrust of each other. This also prevents the development of pathways to understanding and cooperation.


Going to school together exposes you to each other’s perspectives, not only in the explicit ways they are taught, but precisely in exchanges like mine with Nadia about Golda Meir’s statement. It makes you understand each other more deeply, and examine your own assumptions.

Being together does not eliminate disagreements, but it equips you to find ways to discuss and work with them. This forges a different psychological and societal premise on which to build a society, creating a citizenry equipped to appreciate diversity and work constructively with the inherent challenges of difference. Only in this way can we stop fighting and fearing each other, and find a way to live together peacefully.

President Reuven Rivlin has been an outspoken advocate regarding the existential necessity facing Israel to build a genuine partnership between the four major community groups. Israeli society is fragmenting along these communal seam lines, facing civil tensions that can too easily turn to civil unrest. Bringing Jews and Arabs together in a shared educational partnership is not about political correctness or providing some shallow multicultural facade. It is a pragmatic, political, economic and security necessity.

The state education system plays a central role in this.

A recent report from the State Comptroller offers a sobering assessment of the failure of Israel’s education system to teach students toward coexistence, instead imparting conflicting views of Israeli society and core values. The report also offers a very clear path of action for policy makers, educators and students. It begins with bringing students together in formal and informal educational frameworks to help them appreciate the richness of their different traditions, cultures and histories, and also contend with the inevitable challenges that come with this.

The school Nadia leads, the Max Rayne Hand in Hand Bilingual School, has grown into a K-12 school, part of the mainstream school system, academically excellent and socially pioneering. It serves as a flagship for the other integrated schools in Israel, the only schools where Jews and Arabs are brought together in a shared educational partnership.

Last year Nadia was recognized by Shimon Peres as one of eight women leading profound change in Israeli society. This week the school was awarded the prestigious Education Prize by the Jerusalem Municipality.

Hundreds are on waiting lists at all six of Hand in Hand’s schools, and parents in a dozen other cities have turned to Hand in Hand to start an integrated school. These parents see this as the best way to educate their children, and the best way to build a shared future.

Not every parent in Israel has to choose to send their children to an integrated school. But every Jewish and Arab parent should be able to choose an integrated school. Those who attend will be uniquely equipped to build a society based on partnership. Those who don’t will be impacted by the consciousness that this is a normal, viable choice not just for a school but for society, and integrated programming between homogenous schools should bring groups together regularly to create contact and familiarity.

Golda Meir was right that it is the parents who shape their children’s views of enemies and allies, and this has a direct impact on the kind of future we will have as a society. The existential crises of 2017 are not those of 1948. Today’s Israeli reality requires building partnerships between Jews and Arabs. Integrated schools and coexistence programs must be scaled up to become a norm rather than the exception. Our future depends on it.

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The author is director of resource development and strategy for Hand in Hand: Center for Jewish-Arab Education in Israel.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 25th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Ein Gedi is a kibbutz founded in 1953 on the edge of the Green Line separating Israel from the Jordanian-held West Bank, the kibbutz was completely isolated in the desert above the Dead Sea, the nearest Israeli village being several hours away via a dirt road.

Now the Kibbutz is home of several Israeli schools and other institutions and runs a highly valued hotel – an International Spa. With this hotel as base – I went with the Paul Winter group to Masada to listen to a panel that put bare the most important climate change issue
that is displayed here on the birds-high-flight between Europe and South Africa in an area
contested between Israel and the Arab/Islamic World. Then the following day Wednesday the 22nd, we went to a Nature Preserve to observe how children from unfriendly four States were brought together by the Convener David BenShabat, Musician Paul Winter, and Professor Yossi Leshem of the Israeli Society for the Protection of Nature.

At Masada Winter performed on his saxophone parts of his new composition – “Flyways” –
and airways photographer Matya Shick showed us photos she takes from a small AirCam plane that was built for National Geographic and Amir Ben Dov showed us pictures of unique local birds -the most interesting among them was the Lilit Hamidbar small owl.

We heard from Dov Litvinoff – the Mayor of the local Regional Council – Tamar, and Spanish Wildlife Artist Juan Varela Simo, who helps spread love of nature and got caught by the concept of painting of nature to bring together the children of the opposing factions of the Middle East.

On the following day, Wednesday the 22nd, 160 children showed up for an activity that will
help them understand issues of nature and climate and allow them to see that the “other”
side do not have to be regarded as enemies if you learn you can paint nature in tandem.

Oh well! this might be a log term investment – but could parents learn from their children?

I noted 4 States. Israel and Jordan are obvious two. Then comes the Palestinian State-in-the-making, but I mentioned to myself a fourth State of those settlers on Palestinian land that came in as colonists and are the element that stands in the way of full Palestinian-Israeli cooperation. They were here as well as their children were also invited to this joint enterprise. S far as I know – this was a first.

Later I learned that Thursday April 6, 2017 there will be another concert at Masada –
this one will be sponsored by UNESCO – a UN organization that had in the pat feuded
with Israel by taking Arabs’ position that denies rights to Israel. Can they be co-opted to become a co-convener for friendly events?

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 19th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

BIRDS KNOW NO BORDERS, THE RESULTS OF HUMAN ACTIVITIES THAT IMPACT CLIMATE _ KNOW NO BORDERS.


The Jerusalem International YMCA event of March 16th 2017

An Opening with the “Treasures of the Dead Sea movie filmed and edited by Yuval Dax.

Greetings by:

Member of the Israeli Parliament (The Knesset) Tzachi Hanegbi – newly appointe Minister of Regional Cooperation who had now the first chance to share the podium with General (Ret.)
Mansour Abu Rashid) of Jordan, Chairman of the Amman Center for Peace and Development (ACPD)
and Major Gen. (Res.) Doron Almog, Israel – Chairman of the Hoopoe Foundation.

Also, Dov Litvinoff – Mayor of the Tamar Regional Council, Iris Hahn, CEO, Society for the Protection of Nature, Israel, and Ysbrand Browers, Director, Artists for Nature Foundation.

The Concert led by Paul Winter – seven time Grammy Rewards Recipient, Plays the soprano Saxophone.

The Paul Winter consort included:
David Haughey (USA – chello); Paul McCandless (USA – oboe); Eren Basburg (Turkey – keyboards);
and Zohar Fresco (Israel – percussion);

Followed by words by Professor Yossi Leshem.


The upcoming event – March 21, 2017 at 19:30 – at the Dead Sea Research Institute auditorium
at the feet of the Masada fortress above the Dead Sea.

The Convener is David BenShabat – Dead Sea Research Institute.

The Opening Movie – “THINK TOGETHER.”

Greetings: by the Mayor of the Tamar Region; Photographer of the Dead Sea Matya Shick; and Juan Varela – Artists for Nature Foundation and the Dead Sea.

The Concert by Paul Witer with exerpts from his new composition “FLYWAYS” celebrating bird migration and the countries along the GreatRift Valley.

The Lectures by Professor Yossi Leshem on the international highway for migrating birds and
Amir Ben Dov on the Tamar Region birds.

in between above two events of March 16th and March 21st and then continuing till March 26th,
the Paul Winter team and further 30 visual arts professionals, will have cooperative events in locations around the Dead Sea the Negev and South to Eilat, – in Israel, Jordan, and Palestine. These will be joint painting or music making events intended to popularize the reasons for the plight of this sea.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 12th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The Forward, NewsBreaking News

Left-Wing Author A.B. Yehoshua Now Sees One-State Solution
Ben SalesDecember 20, 2016Leonardo Cendamo

Read more: forward.com/news/breaking-news/35…

(JTA) — For years, left-wing Israeli author A.B. Yehoshua has been fighting for a Palestinian state. For years, right-wing Israeli politician Naftali Bennett has been fighting against one.

But now they agree.


Speaking to Israel’s Army Radio on Monday, Yehoshua made a shocking shift after nearly 50 years of peace activism: “It doesn’t make sense to talk about two states.”


“This solution is made more and more difficult, more and more problematic, and after 50 years it has become even harder because of what’s happening on the ground,” Yehoshua said in an interview marking his 80th birthday. “The solution was made impossible first because of the huge settlements that now require evacuating 450,000 people, which is completely delusional.”

Instead, Yehoshua took a page from the playbook of the Jewish Home (HABAIT HAYEHUDI) party, the most hawkish in the Knesset. Bennett, the party’s chairman, vehemently opposes a two-state solution. He has pushed Israel to annex the portion of the West Bank that includes all Israeli settlements and some 100,000 Palestinians. Called Area C, the region makes up about 60 percent of West Bank land. Bennett’s plan would offer Israeli citizenship to Area C Palestinians.

Unlike Bennett, Yehoshua did not call for annexing the area. But he did suggest giving full or partial citizenship to the 100,000 Palestinians who live there.

Given that Jews who live in Area C already are full Israeli citizens, Yehoshua’s proposal ends up sounding a lot like Bennett’s.

“They conflict day and night with the settlers, and they suffer the issue of occupation in the hardest way,” Yehoshua said of Area C Palestinians. “I say to give them residency, like the [Arab] residents of Jerusalem … or even citizenship. That way, you upgrade their position. From the perspective of Israel’s demographics, there’s no problem.”

Yehoshua said his about-face “is not despair. It’s a specific solution to a substantial problem.” He said granting increased rights to Area C Palestinians means giving them benefits like unemployment insurance, Social Security and Israeli wages. Yehoshua sees it as an immediate improvement for some Palestinians, as long as a Palestinian state remains a distant aspiration.

Bennett responded on Twitter, claiming that “A.B. Yehoshua has adopted, in practice, the sovereignty plan I proposed in 2010.”

Read more: forward.com/news/breaking-news/35…

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 11th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Exxon eyes Israel after Cyprus win

 www.globes.co.il/en/article-exxon…

9 Mar, 2017 14:09
Nati Yefet

After winning a Cypriot government tender, Exxon Mobile has expressed interest in bidding for Israeli natural gas tenders.

Israeli Minister of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources Yuval Steinitz met last week with senior executives from Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell during his visit to the US. The minister’s associates say that while Royal Dutch Shell will probably not take part in the new tender for oil and gas exploration licenses in Israeli waters, the Exxon Mobil executives came equipped with a great deal of relevant information, and expressed interest in the tender.

The reason is allegedly the announcement two days ago that Exxon had won a tender for oil and gas exploration in Block 10 in Cyprus as part of a consortium with Qatar Petroleum. A group composed of Italian company ENI and Total, and ENI by itself, won the concession for two other blocks in the tender.

In a fourth block already held by Total, the company asked the Cypriot government for permission to add ENI as a 50% partner in the license, because the block is located only six kilometers away from the Egyptian Zohr gas reservoir discovered by ENI. Total expects ENI’s extensive knowledge of the geology in the area to be of use in finding gas in Cyprus.

Steinitz’s associates say that since Exxon is starting to prepare for activity in a nearby area, the company believes that it is likely to prove worthwhile to develop parallel activity in Israel, and to use the same transportation infrastructure to export gas discovered in both countries to Europe.

Steinetz went to Europe early this week, and flew from there to New York and Houston for a week of meetings with energy concerns. In Rome, he met with his Italian counterpart, and held meetings in New York with the Barclays, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, and JP Morgan investments banks, as well as with a group of private investors organized by the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC). In Houston, he took part in the CERAweek energy conference, and held meetings with energy companies.

Steinitz told “Globes,” I was surprised to see energy ministers and representatives of energy companies from all over the world congratulate us on the beginning of development in Leviathan, after years of delay. Almost everyone had assumed that Leviathan was a lost cause… especially given the global crisis in investments in oil and gas fields and the fact that some of the deep water projects of the Leviathan type have been canceled or postponed in various places around the world.


“In meetings with some of the world’s largest investment banks, they noted the change in Israel’s image in the energy market, from a place to be avoided into a responsible country attractive for energy investments in general, and private gas in particular. The plans we displayed for building an undersea pipeline to Turkey, and from Israel and Cyprus to Greece and Italy, aroused a surprising degree of interest.”

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Published by Globes [online], Israel Business News – www.globes-online.com – on March 9, 2017
and appears in many Israeli publications, i.e. The Jerusalem Post, March 10, 2017

SustainabiliTank, sorry for the Trump Administration’s definitive efforts to undo the Obama Administration’s great successes in decreasing the place of oil in the global energy markets,
sees now a decreasing importance of the EPA, Energy Policy, Environment Policy and Global Climate Change avoidance. But also a planed subservience of The State Department to the US oil Interests – the revival of the American Petroleum Institute (API) in the Governing of the USA.
Geting the present Israel Government interested in the cooperation in developing sea resources could perhaps take off some of the pressure in the political arena, though clearly inctreasing
pressure against the potential of an Iranian sea base on Syrian soil. All of this within Israel and US State Department attention.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 8th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Ben Gurion died at 87 on December 1, 1973. Upon his final retirement he said that he will write his biography as a history of his time but he never finished that task. His wife Paula died four years before him and he said he felt like a half man.

Recently, in two separate places, were found the video and the audio tape of an interview by a British media person after his wife’s death. When the video and the audio were put together it became clear that excellent material was there for a documentary film on that amazing small but great man.

Ben Gurion was born October 16, 1886, as David Gruen in Plonsk – a basically small town in then Congress Poland that was part of the Tsarist Empire. The people there were dreaming about the Israel of old – in what was called Palestine. When Herzl came to town he was greeted as if the Messiah arrived.

David reached Palestine first time in 1915 and started out as an agricultural laborer. Jewish farmers came to check the muscles of the offerings.His personal development took time but eventually we see him sitting down with Adenauer, when against the will of many of his followers he accepted reparations for the Holocaust. Ben Gurion realized the young new State needs help and Germany provided training for 5,000 Israeli military personnel and scientists to start the nuclear sector.

Ben Gurion brought together philosopher-giants Hugo Bergman, Martin Buber and others, as the State he envisioned was not to be based on the military but on Judaism, humanism, and democracy. He said that the greatest Jew we had was Moshe (Moses)

Ben Gurion does not define himself as a Zionist and definitely not as a Socialist – he accepts plain Judaism as it appears in the Bible and promoted by the prophets.
It is just simple humanism that comes about from deep thinking or meditation.

He has studied Buddhism but finds greatness not in the thinking but in the doing -and realizing what one finds best in himself. The interviewer wanted to know about the “I” and if one has to rid himself of that “I?” Ben Gurion says to him that the “I” is not the question but the quality of the “I.” Is it an “I” of selfishness, or an “I” of humanity. Buddha was preaching 500 years before Christ and the Bible is not just about Jews.

The people that came to Palestine were looking for peace but to achieve this had to have the capability for wa,r and it was Hashomer active since 1870 that showed the way.

For Israel, with people from many different countries, the army was the best place to bring people together.

Asked if there are things he has done that he is sorry about. He said that you can never know you are not making mistakes – I did things I thought had to be done – so I was at peace with myself.

Asked that most countries that were created after WWII failed as democracies, can Israel continue to be democratic? He said that if the question is peace or territory – he is for peace. And here, though he has no doubt that old Israel gives his country the right for all the territory from the Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea – he was ready gladly to give up all those lands gained in the Six Days War in exchange for peace. He said then clearly – WE ARE PLEASED WITH THE 1967 BORDERS IN EXCHANGE FOR PEACE.

We want peace on the basis of the Status Quo pre-1967. And here the tape has a series of meetings Ben Gurion had with Musa Alami whom he knew for 40 years
when they represented the two main factions of the land. Now he received phone calls from Mussa Alami when on a trip in London. This part touched memories with me as well as in Buffalo, New York, at the State University I befriended an Alami from that family from the Old City in Jerusalem, and when I went to Jerusalem, but he could not go, after the end of the 1967 fighting, his parents and sister came to see me in the West Jerusalem to send with me some goodies for their son. No doubt, sane people can find ways to coexist

Asked what would he have done after 1967. Ben Gurion said, had he been asked he would have presented his views.

At 85 Ben Gurion was celebrated by the Knesset and the interviewer asked him if he was pleased with what he has done – to which he said it was not him – it was the Halutzim that had the vision. He knows only one person who has done everything by himself – that was Albert Einstein when he invented the theory of Relativity. Everybody else had to work with a group. I never guided Israel – The State does not exist yet!

Regarding his wife Paula, he said she was no zionist nor Socialist, she just followed him to Palestine. Later she said she was not the Prime-Minister’s wife – only the Wife of David Ben Gurion.

David said when the talk was about his age – I was reborn when I came to Israel from New York in 1919 followed by Paula – a new man – so, he was much younger.

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Musa Alami (May 3, 1897 – June 8, 1984) (Arabic: Müsa al-‘Al?mi) was a prominent Palestinian nationalist and politician. Due to Alami having represented Palestine at various Arab conferences, in the 1940s Alami was viewed by many as the leader of the Palestinian Arabs.

Alami was born in the Musrara district of Jerusalem, into a prominent family. His father was Mayor of Jerusalem Faidi al-Alami, his sister was married to Jamal al-Hussayni and he was the uncle of Serene Husseini Shahid.

He was first taught at the school of the American Colony and at the French Ecole des Freres in Jaffa. During World War I Alami worked at the censorship office in Damascus. Alami retained a positive view of the Ottoman empire; recalling that the Arabs regarded the Turks as partners rather than oppressors, and above all: Palestine was largely ruled by Palestinian officials. Alami claimed that “a greater degree of freedom and self-government existed in Palestine than in many Turkish provinces”.

Later he studied law at Cambridge University and was admitted to the Inner Temple and graduated with honors degree.

Upon his return to Jerusalem, Musa Alami worked for the legal department of the government of the British Mandate of Palestine and eventually became the private secretary of the High Commissioner General Arthur Grenfell Wauchope. In 1934, Alami participated in talks with the leaders of the Jewish community in Palestine David Ben-Gurion and Moshe Sharett. According to Ben-Gurion, he suggested that the Zionists could provide significant help developing the region, but according to Ben-Gurion, Alami replied that he would prefer waiting one hundred years and leaving the land backward, as long as the Palestinians could do the job themselves.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 7th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The week of Purim – Is Netanyahu now a link to Putin, is Trump just trying to help a friend in trouble or was it a warning call?

Netanyahu is being interrogated at his office in Jerusalem the fourth time on several counts of suspected corruption. These interrogations go on for 5 hours each time.

This Monday the phone rang during the questioning and it was a call from Trump. It was said to the public that Trump informs him that Iran or North Korea launched a new missile and Trump wants Israel’s help. Will be the Israeli Attorney General impressed?

In parallel, it was already known since Sunday that this Friday, Netanyahu will have lunch with Putin in Moscow. The topic of discussion will be the presence of Iranian units
on Syrian soil. Will Netanyahu and his wife stay in Moscow over the Sabbath? Then they could have the chance to read the Esther Megilla at the local Temple, as Ivanka Trump and her husband will probably be doing in Florida. May be even Trump.

But the New York Times has a different idea about what Trump had to say to Netanyahu.
Supposedly he wanted just to say cool it with that construction project on those hills.

Israel Cabinet Minister of Defense, who went to Washington sensing a hurt Netanyahu,
told Lebanon not to join the Iranian side and told the Cabinet that it would be a big mistake to take over another 2 million more Arabs as part of Israel’s citizenry, this just because it would cost billions to give them full rights. That neatly lines up with Trump.

We think rather – Trump might have given to Netanyahu some advice from Tillerson on gas pipelines and the gas market – something of interest to all involved

Have a nice flight and a good weekend!

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Throughout the centuries, Purim – which celebrates the miraculous salvation of the Jews and the thwarting of Haman’s genocidal plot – has traditionally symbolized the victory of the Jewish people over antisemitic tyranny. As such, Purim is a happy, carnival-like holiday.


The Fast of Esther

The day before Purim is a fast day known as the Fast of Esther, commemorating (inter alia) the fact that Queen Esther – the heroine of the Book of Esther – and the entire Persian Jewish community fasted (4:16) in advance of Queen Esther’s appeal for King Ahasuerus not to implement Haman’s genocidal plot. The fast will extend from before sunrise in the morning until sunset. Special prayers and scriptural readings are inserted into the synagogue service.

The Megilla
The pergament on which all of this was recorded.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 5th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Jerusalem Post Israel News Politics And Diplomacy

NETANYAHU TO URGE RUSSIA TO SAY ‘NYET’ TO IRANIAN OPS NEAR ISRAEL BORDER.

BYHERB KEINON MARCH 5, 2017 12:03

PM of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, to discuss Syrian civil war developments in meeting with Putin in Moscow on Thursday.

Israel hopes to reach “specific understandings” with Russia to prevent Iran from permanently setting up a base of operations in Syria against Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the cabinet on Sunday.

At the opening of the weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu announced that he will be traveling to Moscow on Thursday for a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and the focus of the discussions will be on current efforts to put together new arrangements in Syria. Those efforts have taken place in recent weeks in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, and Geneva.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 28th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From information we received from Michael Madsen of IRENA

The IRENA (The Masdar City, Abu Dhabi, UAE based International Renewable Energy Agency)
Global Atlas for Renewable Energy. The new Global Atlas 3.0 beta – to be released this month.

Please go to the following link in order to find global maps relating to the existing maps
– there will soon be more maps:

Tidal currents
Geothermal
Geothermal District Heating potential across Europe
global heat flow
global wind
global solar
global Bouger and Free Air gravity
investment opportunities in South-East Europe – Sustainability analysis.

PLEASE GO TO:

 globalatlas-uat.masdar.ac.ae/gal…

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 9th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The Uri Avnery Column at the Israeli Gush Shalom website of February 4, 2017

RESPECT THE GREEN LINE!

THE MOST incisive analysis of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict I have ever read was written by the Jewish-Polish-British historian Isaac Deutscher. It consists of a single image.

A man lives on the upper floor of a building, which catches fire. To save his life, he jumps out of a window and lands on a passerby in the street below. The victim is grievously injured, and between the two starts an intractable conflict.

Of course, no metaphor is completely perfect. The Zionists did not choose Palestine by chance, the choice was based on our religion. The founder of the movement, Theodor Herzl, initially preferred Argentina.

Still, the picture is basically valid, at least until 1967. From then on, the settlers continued to jump across the Green Line, with no fire in sight.

THERE IS nothing holy about the Green Line. It is no different from any other border line around the world, whatever its color.

Most borders were drawn by geography and the accidents of war. Two peoples fight for the territory between them, at some point the fighting comes to an end, and a border is born.
The land borders of Israel – known for some reason as the “Green Line” – were also established by the accidents of war. A part of that line was the result of a deal between the new Israeli government and the king of Jordan, Abdallah I, who gave us the so-called Triangle as a baksheesh, in return for Israel’s agreement to his annexation of most of the rest of Palestine. So what’s so holy about this border? Nothing, except that it’s there. And that is true for many borders throughout the world.

A border is established by accident and confirmed by agreement. True, the United Nations drew borders between the Jewish and the Arab states in its 1947 resolution, but after the Arab side started a war in order to thwart this decision, Israel greatly enlarged its territory.

The 1948 war ended without a peace treaty. But the armistice lines established at the end of the war were accepted by the entire world as the borders of Israel. This has not changed during the 68 years that have passed since then.

This situation prevails both de facto and de jure. Israeli law applies only within the Green Line. Everything else is occupied territory under military law. Two small territories – East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights – were unilaterally declared to be annexed by Israel, but nobody in the world recognizes this status.

I ELABORATE on these well-known facts because the settlers in the occupied territories have lately started to taunt their critics in Israel by bringing up a new argument: “Hey, what’s the big difference between us?”

You too sit on Arab lands, they tell us. True, before 1948 the Zionists settled on land they bought with good money – but only a small part of it was bought from the fellahin who tilled it. Most of it was acquired from rich absentee landowners, who had bought it cheaply from the Turkish sultan when the Ottoman Empire was in dire financial straits . The tillers of the land were driven out by the Turkish, and later the British, police.

Large stretches of land were “liberated” during the fighting of 1948, when masses of Arab villagers and city-dwellers fled before the advancing Israeli forces, as civilians do in every war. If they didn’t, a few salvos of machine-gun fire were enough to drive them out.
The inhabitants who were left in Jaffa after the town was conquered, were simply packed on trucks and sent to Gaza. The inhabitants of Lod (Lydda) were driven away on foot. In the end, about 750 thousand Arabs were expelled, more than half the Palestinian people at the time. The Jewish population in Palestine amounted then to 650 thousand.

Some inner voice compels me at this point to mention a Canadian-Jewish officer named Ben Dunkelmann, then 36 years old, who commanded a brigade in the new Israeli army. He had served with distinction in the Canadian army in World War II. He was ordered to attack Nazareth, the home-town of Jesus, but succeeded in inducing the local leaders to surrender without a fight. The condition was that the local population would not be harmed.
After his troops had occupied the town, Dunkelmann received an oral order to drive the population out. Outraged, Dunkelmann refused to break his word of honor as an officer and a gentleman, and demanded the order in writing. Such a written order never arrived, of course (no such orders were ever put in writing), but Dunkelmann was removed from his post.
Nowadays, when I pass Nazareth, a thriving Arab town, I remember this brave man. After that war, he returned to his native Canada. I don’t think he ever came back here again. He died 20 years ago.

HONEST DISCLOSURE: I took part in all this. As a simple soldier, and later as a squad leader, I was a part of the events. But immediately after the war I wrote a book that disclosed the truth (“The Other Side of the Coin”), and a few years later I published a detailed plan for the return of some of the refugees and the payment of compensation to all the others. That, of course, never happened.

Most of the land and the houses of the refugees were filled with new Jewish immigrants.
Now the settlers say, not without some justice: “Who are you to despise us? You did the same as we are doing! Only you did it before 1967, and we do it now. What’s the difference?”
That is the difference. We live in a state that has been recognized by most of the world within established borders. You live in territory that the world considers occupied Palestinian territory. The state of Texas was acquired by the USA in a war with Mexico. If President Trump were now to invade Mexico and annex a chunk of land (why not?), its status would be quite different.


Binyamin Netanyahu – some now call him Trumpyahu – is all for enlarging the settlements. This week, under pressure from our Supreme Court, he staged the removal of one tiny little settlement, Amona, with a lot of heartbreak and tears, but immediately promised to put up many thousands of new “housing units” in the occupied territories.

OPPOSITE POLITICAL extremes often touch each other. So it is now.

The settlers who want to wipe out the difference between us and them, do it not just to justify themselves. Their main aim is to erase the Green Line and include all the occupied territories in Greater Israel, which would extend from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River.

A lot of Israel-haters want the same borders – but as an Arab state.
Indeed, I would love to chair a peace conference of Israel-haters and Palestine-haters. I would propose to decide first on the points they all agree on – namely the creation of a state from sea to river. I would leave to the end the decision whether to call it Israel or Palestine.

A world-wide movement called BDS now proposes to boycott all of Israel, in order to achieve this end. I have a problem with that.

GUSH SHALOM, the Israeli peace organization to which I belong, takes great pride in being the first to declare a boycott on the products of the settlements many years ago. We still uphold this boycott, though it is now illegal under Israeli law.

We did not declare a boycott on Israel. And not only because it is rather awkward to boycott oneself. The main object of our boycott was to teach Israelis to differentiate between themselves and the settlements. We published and distributed many thousand copies of the list of companies located and products produced outside the Green Line. Many people are upholding the boycott.

The BDS boycott of all Israel achieves the exact opposite: by saying that there is no difference between Israel within the Green Line and the settlers outside, it pushes ordinary Israelis into the arms of the settlers.

The settlers, of course, are only too happy to get the assistance of BDS in erasing the Green Line.

I HAVE no emotional quarrel with the BDS people. True, a few of them seem to be old-school anti-Semites in a new garb, but I have the impression that most BDS supporters act out of sincere sympathy for the suffering of the Palestinians. I respect that.

However, I would urge the well-meaning idealists who support BDS to think again about the paramount importance of the Green Line – the only border that makes peace between Israel and Palestine possible, with some minor mutually agreed adjustments.


ISRAEL IS there. It cannot be wished away. So is Palestine.

If we all agree on that, we can also agree on the continued boycott of the settlements – and of the settlements only.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 30th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Abu Dhabi is not an oil-state anymore. They are a plain financial-state while Saudi Arabia’s oil-company ARAMCO is actually joining the Emirates by enhancing their participation in the RENEWABLE ENERGY WORLD as beneficial economically to everyone. ARO made a great presentation this month at the Abu-Dhabi meeting.

Today above has a special meaning in light of Donald Trump’s throwing the US back into the oil-barrel as managed by ExxonMobil. He even had the audacity to make the ex-CEO of ExxonMobil his Secretary of State or Foreign Minister. This can mean that the Americans intend to push back the World into the dark ages of carbon clouds. Nevertheless, Trump has left open the door to visitors from those old oil-states that could thus have a chance to bring some new energy ideas to the USA that retrograde Tramp does not see yet. Trump even said the US should have kept for itself the Iraqi oil and have kept that money from funding ISIS. Yes, he might have had a point there, but did he ever think that the US was not intended to be of a colonial nature? This in spite of the behaviour of the Bush family – the allies of the Saudi family?

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Michael Madsen  MMadsen at irena.org via lists.iisd.ca
Jan 29, 2017

to Climate
Dear Colleagues,

I would like to draw your attention to the International Renewable Energy Agency’s (IRENA) most recent publication “Planning for the renewable future: Long-term modelling and tools to expand variable renewable power in emerging economies”, which was presented at the 2017 World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi.

The report guides energy planners and modelling practitioners through various modelling practices and use of renewable data to better represent variable renewable energy (VRE) sources in long-term generation expansion planning. The report highlights the findings from AVRIL (“Addressing Variable Renewable Energy in Long-term Energy Planning”), an IRENA project that has identified the best practices in long-term planning and modelling to represent high shares of VRE.

The report includes two main parts:

· Part One (Planning the transition to variable renewables) offers guidance to energy decision makers and planners by providing an overview of key long-term issues and concerns around the large-scale integration of VRE into the power grid.
· Part Two (Long-term models for energy transition planning) offers guidance to technical practitioners in the field of energy modelling, specifically with a catalogue of practical VRE modelling methodologies for long-term scenario planning. Topics addressed include: temporal and spatial resolution of generation expansion models, calibration of time-slices, capacity credit constraints, flexibility constraints, flexibility balance validation, coupling with production cost models, linking grid expansion needs with VRE expansion, site specific representation of generation, and transmission needs.

In case of questions or suggestions, please contact Dr. Asami Miketa ( AMiketa at irena.org), Programme Officer at the IRENA Innovation and Technology Centre.

Best regards,

Michael Madsen
Junior Professional Associate – Social Media and Web / Digital Content

———————————————————
IRENA Headquarters, Masdar City | P.O. Box 236 | Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates | Tel: +97124147128 | Mob: +971569905026 |  MMadsen at irena.orgwww.irena.org

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 4th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Rex Tillerson to put Exxon nest egg in a trust over conflict of interest concerns

by Jethro Mullen @CNNMoneyInvest January 4, 2017

ExxonMobil and Rex Tillerson have announced their plan to address concerns about the huge nest egg the oil giant has promised to its former CEO.

Tillerson, who Donald Trump has picked as his secretary of state, is due to receive more than 2 million Exxon shares — worth more than $181 million at current prices — over the next decade.

To tackle the ethical and legal problems raised by the massive payout, Exxon said late Tuesday that if Tillerson is confirmed for the job, it plans to put the value of the shares he would have received in an independently managed trust, which won’t be allowed to invest in the oil company.

Tillerson, 64, has also agreed with the State Department to sell the more than 600,000 Exxon shares he owns at the moment, the company said. They’re worth more than $54 million at today’s prices.

Related: Exxon’s Tillerson retiring to prep for Senate confirmation

Richard Painter, a former ethics lawyer for President George W. Bush, said the measures appeared to satisfy concerns he had expressed previously about Tillerson’s financial ties to Exxon.

“He should convince President-elect Trump to come up with a similar arrangement to divest his conflicts of interest,” Painter said, comparing Tillerson’s deal to what was done for former Goldman Sachs CEO Hank Paulson when he became treasury secretary in 2006.

Tillerson’s arrangement, which Exxon says was drawn up in consultation with federal ethics regulators, involves giving up various payouts and perks, according to the company’s statement.

He’ll no longer be entitled to more than $4.1 million in cash bonuses that he was set to receive over the next three years — or medical, dental and other benefits from Exxon. He retired as the oil company’s CEO on Saturday after working there for more than four decades.

As America’s chief diplomat, Tillerson could have a tremendous impact on Exxon’s business, from negotiations over a climate change treaty and sanctions on Russia to the nuclear deal with Iran and general geopolitical unrest in the Middle East.

Exxon said that if Tillerson returns to work in the oil and gas industry during the 10-year payout period from the trust, he would forfeit the funds.
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“The money would be distributed to one or more charities involved in fighting poverty or disease in the developing world,” the company said. “Neither Tillerson nor ExxonMobil would have any control over the selection of the charities.”

Painter described that part of the plan as “an added benefit” that will make it “highly unlikely” that Tillerson will go back into the oil industry.

“Most public servants have no restrictions on where they can work after government … and we have to worry about them trying to help future employers,” he said, pointing to Treasury Department officials who go back to Wall Street.

Related: The problem with Rex Tillerson’s nine-figure nest egg

Over all, the arrangement would cost Tillerson about $7 million in compensation he would have received, Exxon said.

As with all political appointees who sell assets that may pose conflicts of interest, Tillerson would be allowed to defer any capital gains tax he owes on the more than 600,000 Exxon shares he’s agreed to sell so long as he reinvests the proceeds within 60 days into so-called “permitted property.” That basically means U.S. Treasury securities and diversified mutual funds.

It’s not immediately clear, however, what the tax implications are for Tillerson from Exxon agreeing to set up the trust for the value of the more than 2 million shares he’d otherwise have coming to him over the next 10 years.

— Jeanne Sahadi and Chris Isidore contributed to this report.

OUR COMMENT:

Rex Tillerson during the years 2006 to 2016 changed his views on Climate Change from total denial by EXXON to a controlled acceptance of the Paris outcome.
Exxon had a history of funding false scientists – ten moved on to join what seemed to be the winning crowd, but took positions that slow change.

ExxonMobil k nows the global oil industry and understandably will promote it above everything else. This leads to alliances with Saudi Arabia and Putin’s Russia that will turn away the US from the Obama path of disengagement from te dependence on oil as the true path to slow down climate change and the harm the use of fossil fuels causes to the environment.

And besides, Foreign relations of the USA contain many other topics besides the negotiation of oil contracts. What are the visions of Rex Tillerson when he gets of the Oil Barrel?

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 3rd, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

With a $1 million grant, the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs jumpstarts solar-electricity small-vessels transportation in Tunisia for the benefit of the Middle East and North Africa.

UNDESA – 01-JANUARY 2017

Project for solar-powered vessels receives $1 million UN Energy Grant

A partnership working to promote solar-powered electric vessels in Tunisia and in the Middle East and North Africa was awarded the one million US dollars 2016 Energy Grant from UN DESA on 14 December 2016. The project “Solar Fueled Electric Maritime Mobility” by SINTEF, an independent non-profit research institute based in Norway, seeks to demonstrate the feasibility and the social, economic and environmental benefits of solar-fueled electric boat transport in Tunisia and the wider region.

SINTEF is implementing this demonstration project with the National Agency for Energy Conservation of Tunisia.

SINTEF will use the grant to develop technology for a traditional ferry or other vessel with a plug-in hybrid electric powertrain and to construct an electric charging point. It will help also support data collection and analysis. Selection of the vessel in Tunisia to be used for the demonstration will be decided in the first phase of the project.

The project aims to generate the data and evidence needed to replicate sustainable transport in the region. It seeks to demonstrate the benefits of low cost electric vessels as key transport between coastal cities in the region, with a view to encouraging other stakeholders to implement such transport on a larger scale. This would in turn benefit in particular the low and middle income parts of the population. The project will also contribute to the avoidance of transport related greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution, and it will help to prevent and reduce marine pollution.

Furthermore, the project will conduct capacity development workshops for Tunisian and other regional stakeholders, the preparation of a Tunisian Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Action (NAMA) to be submitted to the UNFCCC portal, as well as public outreach activities to spread knowledge of this low-cost, sustainable transport solution.

SINTEF has extensive expertise in solar and wind energy, energy regulation and storage, grid integration of renewable energy, maritime transport and maritime technologies.

“The transport sector is responsible for nearly a quarter of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions. It also has significant public health impacts,” said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the award ceremony. “The answer is not less transport – it is sustainable transport.
We need transport systems that are environmentally friendly, efficient, affordable, and accessible,” he said.

UN General Assembly President Peter Thomson said the “Powering the Future We Want” programme is a “creative initiative that promotes and funds innovative activities related to sustainable energy – an issue that goes to the heart of achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.” He added, “it is vital to our efforts to move towards a sustainable future that we establish transport systems that are smart, clean, affordable, and powered by clean energy.”

Under-Secretary-General Wu Hongbo expressed deep gratitude to all of the finalists, the China Energy Fund Committee, the High-level Steering Committee and the Advisory Council of the Grant. “This Energy Grant is an excellent example of global partnership. Working together, we can make a difference. Today’s award bears vivid testimony to that success,” he said.

“We firmly believe that energy belongs to all of us, today and tomorrow. And each and every one of us has the duty to use energy sparingly, wisely and responsibly. By partnering with UN DESA in making this grant possible, the China Energy Fund Committee is sending out a most sincere message of collaboration and partnership to work together finding solutions for energy security by achieving energy sustainability for the entire humanity,” said Dr. Patrick Ho, Secretary-General of the China Energy Fund Committee.

The “Powering the Future We Want” initiative

The UN-DESA Energy Grant is a capacity building initiative launched and managed by UN DESA, in collaboration with the China Energy Fund Committee, a Hong Kong based NGO in consultative status with ECOSOC. Titled “Powering the Future We Want”, this initiative offers a grant in the amount of one million US dollars to fund capacity development activities in energy for sustainable development. The grant is awarded to an individual, institution or partnership based on past and current achievements in leadership and innovative practices in advancing energy for sustainable development. The 2016 cycle of the grant had as focus “Energy for Sustainable Transport”.

In 2016, the UN DESA Energy Grant received over 150 applications. The winner has been selected through a rigorous review and objective assessment of these applications, undertaken in multiple stages, guided by an Advisory Council and a High-level Steering Committee. A grant will be awarded annually from 2015 until 2019.

The eight finalists of the 2016 Grant Cycle, in alphabetical order: Ms. Fiza Farhan; GerWeiss Motors Corporation; KPIT Technologies Limited; Medellin Mayor’s Office- Mobility and Transit Department; Motor Development International SA (MDI SA); South Asian Forum for Environment (SAFE); SINTEF; SNV Netherlands Development Organisation.

Winner of the US$1 million 2016 UN-DESA Energy Grant: SINTEF
The $1 million come from a China/Hong Kong based NGO.

For more information: UN-DESA Energy Grant.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 3rd, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

BREAKING — THE DANGLING FRUIT IN FRONT OF TRUMP: Ford is canceling plans to build a new manufacturing plant in Mexico and instead is investing $700 million in Michigan. The company’s CEO Mark Fields told CNN that the move is a “vote of confidence” in President-elect Donald Trump’s pledge to create a pro-business environment. Fields emphasized, however, that he did not negotiate any special deal with Trump. “We didn’t cut a deal with Trump,” he said. “We did it for our business.” bit.ly/2j4UZZ4

U.N.’s Israel vote: The House will vote Thursday on a resolution disapproving of the United Nations Security Council resolution criticizing Israel’s settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Many Democrats could join with Republicans to pass the measure as a means of demonstrating their support for Israel, even if their votes would put them at odds with President Obama. The U.S. refused to veto the Security Council resolution and instead abstained from the vote.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 27th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Make Russia great again? Aleppo and a plea from another world

JUAN FRANCISCO LOBO – OpenDemocracy – 24 December 2016


During the last days of December, Russia will host a round of diplomatic talks with Iran and Turkey.


A hundred years ago, Ernst Jünger described a peculiar encounter with a frightened British officer in his account of trench warfare, Storm of Steel: “he reached into his pocket, not to pull out a weapon, but a photograph (…). I saw him on it, surrounded by numerous family (…). It was a plea from another world.”


According to conventional wisdom, “war is hell,” as famously sentenced by General Sherman. Hence Jünger’s depiction of the scene as something from another planet. And that is how the world today, more concerned with the holidays and the latest Hollywood blockbuster, is receiving the dire plea for help by multiple civilians caught in the crossfire of the battle for Aleppo. We simply content ourselves with the thought that civilians will always suffer in times of war, for war is hell.

Or is it?

A few days ago, the soon to be replaced Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, gave his last press conference. Referring to the humanitarian crisis in Syria, he remarked ominously: “Aleppo is now a synonym for hell”. But surely the Secretary General did not intend merely to describe a regrettable fait accompli, as someone might depict a natural disaster. His closing official words carry a message for the world to actively engage in Aleppo, and particularly to make belligerents stop targeting civilians, for not everything is allowed in war after all. As Michael Walzer has pointed out in his decades-long effort to revive the Just War tradition, we strive to fight wars justly and to uphold rules even in the midst of hell.

But, who is there to listen this plea from another world? Even if the message gets through, what is the attitude of superpowers vis-à-vis any demands that the rules of war be upheld?

I have previously argued that there is a value to American hypocrisy coming from its blatant breach of international humanitarian law during the last decade when torturing its way through to fight the “war on terror.” If as La Rochefoucauld said once, hypocrisy is the homage that vice pays to virtue, then the difference between a hypocrite and a cynic lies in the former’s capacity to recognize the existence of rules, only deliberately flouting them, whereas the latter does not even admit the existence of rules. Whereas the day of reckoning eventually comes for the hypocrite, the cynic is forever immune to criticism.


What about Russia?

Has Vladimir Putin’s regime been a hypocrite or a cynic in international relations? We know it has not been an Aliosha Karamazov, a saint, but then, which country has? Has Russia been more of a cynic like Ivan, or a hypocrite like Dimitri Karamazov? The answer is that is has been a bit of both over recent years, behaving as ambiguously as the double-headed eagle in its national coat of arms.

Sometimes Russia has recognized the existence of jus ad bellum and jus in bello conventions and has pledged to uphold them. Indeed, Russia relied on the responsibility to protect doctrine when trying to justify its military advance over Georgia in 2008. In 2013, Russia demonstrated what it could broker in the international arena when stepping in to secure a last-minute deal between Syria and the United States for Al-Assad to surrender his chemical weapons arsenal, absolutely banned under international humanitarian law. Just last Monday morning, on December 19 2016, Russia consented to a Security Council resolution to deploy observers to monitor civilian evacuation procedures in Aleppo.

To be sure, Russia’s use of R2P doctrine in 2008 has been widely condemned as a case of pure hypocrisy; yet, the important thing about the hypocrite is that he acknowledges the existence of rules. Whether he truly respects them or not is something that cannot be ascertained in the present – any more than it can be in the case of the true believer, for that matter.

On the other hand, Russia has of late deployed some alarmingly cynical attitudes in the international arena. During November 2016, Russia announced its withdrawal from the International Criminal Court, pragmatically arguing that “during the 14 years of the court’s work it passed only four sentences having spent over a billion dollars”. ( This announcement followed an ominous spree of similar withdrawals from the ICC by African states. It also followed the publication of a Report by the ICC containing its preliminary examination of the situation in Ukraine, where allegedly war crimes are being committed by Russian and pro-Russian forces.

Although technically Russia never became a party to the Rome Statute – having signed yet never ratified it, and now just exerting its right to make “its intention clear not to become a party to the treaty” pursuant to article 18 of the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties – still this announcement comes as a strong sign of Russian contempt towards international legal institutions.

Some other worrisome examples of Russian cynicism towards the rule of international law are its annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the law passed in 2015 authorizing its constitutional court to overrule decisions by the European Court of Human Rights.

Regarding the armed conflict in Syria, during recent years Russia has systematically vetoed Security Council draft resolutions aimed at solving the crisis in order to protect the interests of Al-Assad, its strongest client in such a strategic region.

Nevertheless, Russia still has the potential to change the course of the Syrian deadlock, as it demonstrated when it brokered the chemical weapons deal in 2013. Moreover, history arguably presents Russia today with a unique opportunity to become the legitimate heir of a genuine humanitarian tradition that the ancient Russian Empire has practiced since the late nineteenth century. Among the main landmarks of this tradition we find the Saint Petersburg Declaration (1868), the humanitarian intervention which prompted the Russian-Turkish War (1877) and Russia’s key role in the discussion of The Hague peace conferences (1899 to 1907), where the Russian diplomat Fiodor Martens promoted a famous clause to protect people in times of war.

During the last days of December, Russia will host a round of diplomatic talks with Iran and Turkey to try and find a definitive solution to the Syrian civil war. If Putin wants to “make Russia great again,” he should endeavor to honor that tradition. By doing so at least Russia will more probably err on the side of hypocrisy rather than on that of cynicism, and people who suffer the consequences of war would still have a chance to find solace behind the aegis of international law.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 27th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


this is an old posting of ours. I just thought to put it up again as it seemed to us to be a reminder that news have a history. it shows that the UN has a history as well. evil is not a surprise.

‘Incomprehensible’: UN Committee Elects Assad Regime to Leadership Post

By Patrick Goodenough

 CNSNews.com) – A group of United Nations’ member-states on Thursday elected the Assad regime to a leadership post of a special committee dealing with decolonization, sparking protests from a human rights group that had earlier urged U.N. secretary-general Ban Ki-moon to intervene.

At a meeting in New York, the committee’s newly-elected chairman, Venezuelan ambassador Rafael Ramirez, asked the member-states whether there were any objections to putting forward Syrian ambassador Bashar Ja’afari as its “rapporteur” for the coming year.

Hearing no objectives, Ramirez declared Ja’afari – as well as three nominated vice chairmen, the representatives of Cuba, Sierra Leone and Indonesia – “elected by acclamation.”

The Venezuelan then led “a round a applause for our friends,” told them he looked forward to working with them “in taking forward the noble work of the special committee,” and invited Ja’afari to take his seat on the podium.

Before the Syrian sat down, Ramirez – a former foreign minister in President Nicolas Maduro’s cabinet – gave him a hug.

According to U.N. estimates well over 250,000 people have been killed and 12 million displaced in the civil war in Syria.

U.S. taxpayers account for 22 percent of the U.N.’s regular budget.

The committee – full name, the Special Committee on the Situation with Regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples – has 24 members.

Ten of them are free democracies, according to Washington-based Freedom House. They are Antigua & Barbuda, Chile, Dominica, Grenada, India, Indonesia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Tunisia.

None of those 10, nor any other member of the committee, raised objections to Syria’s “election” as rapporteur.

Ahead of the election, the non-governmental organization U.N. Watch urged two of the democracies in particular, Chile and India, to oppose Syria’s election.

U.N. Watch executive director Hillel Neuer said after Thursday’s session the two governments should be “ashamed” for joining the consensus vote.

He also criticized Ban for not intervening ahead of the vote.

“It is incomprehensible for the U.N. on one day to lament the regime’s killing and wounding of hundreds of thousands of Syrians – to declare the regime guilty of ‘extermination’ of its own people – and to then hand this gift of false legitimacy to the mass murderer Bashar al-Assad,” Neuer said.

“Today’s U.N. vote only helps the Assad regime portray itself a U.N. human rights arbiter. That’s indefensible, and an insult to Syria’s victims,” he said. “Morally, Mr. Ban should do the right thing and at least condemn the decision.”

Neuer also called on U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power and European Union ambassadors to condemn what he called the “absurd and morally obscene” election outcome.

He said the elections of the Syrian and Venezuelan ambassadors to their respective posts would be “trumpeted by both the Assad and Maduro regimes” as a propaganda victory.

He recalled that the regime after a previous election of Ja’afari called it “yet another recognition by members of the committee of the Syrian important and key role.”

The decolonization committee, established in 1961, advocates independence for 17 specific territories around the world, including American Samoa, U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam.

Neuer called the 55 year-old body “anachronistic,” noting that it has often been “criticized as a costly irrelevance.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 14th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Zarif is Right but his advice is old hat to us – Stop the Contrived Dependence on Oil – the only way that Unties the US from its Slavery to Saudi Arabia.

Zarif talks of WAVE – “World Against Violent Extremism” – and wants this to become a UN sponsored policy with the understanding that it is the Saudi Petrodollars that led to the destruction of Syria and that Wahhabi Sunni Extremism has not led only to attacks on Christians, Jews, and Shia, but also on the destruction of more normal Sunni communities that thrived in Syria and all ver the World. His pinpointing the Saudis and their enslavement to Wahhabism comes naturally to an Iranian who is part of a mainly Shia Nation that also an oil exporter – but nevertheless – his analysis is correct.

The posting of the Zarif column by The New York Times comes at a time President Obama has announced that he will VETO the bill in case Congress votes to allow Court cases against Saudi Arabia as having been in part responsible for the 9/11 attacks and the like of sane people jumping to their death because of crimes committed by Saudi citizens proven to have been aided by their government.

Please note – this is a rare occasion we have no understanding for a President Obama held position. In effect he seems to side with the GW Bush position when he released the Bin Laden family and sent them home from an airport that was closed to American citizens.

The Opinion Pages | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR to The New York Times

Mohammad Javad Zarif: Let Us Rid the World of Wahhabism

By MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF – September 13, 2016
Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

From Tehran: Public relations firms with no qualms about taking tainted petrodollars are experiencing a bonanza. Their latest project has been to persuade us that the Nusra Front, Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, is no more. As a Nusra spokesman told CNN, the rebranded rebel group, supposedly separated from its parent terrorist organization, has become “moderate.”

Thus is fanaticism from the Dark Ages sold as a bright vision for the 21st century. The problem for the P.R. firms’ wealthy, often Saudi, clients, who have lavishly funded Nusra, is that the evidence of their ruinous policies can’t be photoshopped out of existence. If anyone had any doubt, the recent video images of other “moderates” beheading a 12-year-old boy were a horrifying reality check.

Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, militant Wahhabism has undergone a series of face-lifts, but underneath, the ideology remains the same — whether it’s the Taliban, the various incarnations of Al Qaeda or the so-called Islamic State, which is neither Islamic nor a state. But the millions of people faced with the Nusra Front’s tyranny are not buying the fiction of this disaffiliation. Past experience of such attempts at whitewashing points to the real aim: to enable the covert flow of petrodollars to extremist groups in Syria to become overt, and even to lure Western governments into supporting these “moderates.” The fact that Nusra still dominates the rebel alliance in Aleppo flouts the public relations message.

Saudi Arabia’s effort to persuade its Western patrons to back its shortsighted tactics is based on the false premise that plunging the Arab world into further chaos will somehow damage Iran. The fanciful notions that regional instability will help to “contain” Iran, and that supposed rivalries between Sunni and Shiite Muslims are fueling conflicts, are contradicted by the reality that the worst bloodshed in the region is caused by Wahhabists fighting fellow Arabs and murdering fellow Sunnis.

While these extremists, with the backing of their wealthy sponsors, have targeted Christians, Jews, Yazidis, Shiites and other “heretics,” it is their fellow Sunni Arabs who have been most beleaguered by this exported doctrine of hate. Indeed, it is not the supposed ancient sectarian conflict between Sunnis and Shiites but the contest between Wahhabism and mainstream Islam that will have the most profound consequences for the region and beyond.

While the 2003 American-led invasion of Iraq set in motion the fighting we see today, the key driver of violence has been this extremist ideology promoted by Saudi Arabia — even if it was invisible to Western eyes until the tragedy of 9/11.

The princes in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, have been desperate to revive the regional status quo of the days of Saddam Hussein’s rule in Iraq, when a surrogate repressive despot, eliciting wealth and material support from fellow Arabs and a gullible West, countered the so-called Iranian threat. There is only one problem: Mr. Hussein is long dead, and the clock cannot be turned back.

The sooner Saudi Arabia’s rulers come to terms with this, the better for all. The new realities in our region can accommodate even Riyadh, should the Saudis choose to change their ways.

What would change mean? Over the past three decades, Riyadh has spent tens of billions of dollars exporting Wahhabism through thousands of mosques and madrasas across the world. From Asia to Africa, from Europe to the Americas, this theological perversion has wrought havoc. As one former extremist in Kosovo told The Times, “The Saudis completely changed Islam here with their money.”

Though it has attracted only a minute proportion of Muslims, Wahhabism has been devastating in its impact. Virtually every terrorist group abusing the name of Islam — from Al Qaeda and its offshoots in Syria to Boko Haram in Nigeria — has been inspired by this death cult.

So far, the Saudis have succeeded in inducing their allies to go along with their folly, whether in Syria or Yemen, by playing the “Iran card.” That will surely change, as the realization grows that Riyadh’s persistent sponsorship of extremism repudiates its claim to be a force for stability.

The world cannot afford to sit by and witness Wahhabists targeting not only Christians, Jews and Shiites but also Sunnis. With a large section of the Middle East in turmoil, there is a grave danger that the few remaining pockets of stability will be undermined by this clash of Wahhabism and mainstream Sunni Islam.

There needs to be coordinated action at the United Nations to cut off the funding for ideologies of hate and extremism, and a willingness from the international community to investigate the channels that supply the cash and the arms. In 2013, Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, proposed an initiative called World Against Violent Extremism, or WAVE. The United Nations should build on that framework to foster greater dialogue between religions and sects to counter this dangerous medieval fanaticism.

The attacks in Nice, Paris and Brussels should convince the West that the toxic threat of Wahhabism cannot be ignored. After a year of almost weekly tragic news, the international community needs to do more than express outrage, sorrow and condolences; concrete action against extremism is needed.

Though much of the violence committed in the name of Islam can be traced to Wahhabism, I by no means suggest that Saudi Arabia cannot be part of the solution. Quite the reverse: We invite Saudi rulers to put aside the rhetoric of blame and fear, and join hands with the rest of the community of nations to eliminate the scourge of terrorism and violence that threatens us all.

————————————————————————————-
Mohammad Javad Zarif is the foreign minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 28th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

PLEASE STUDY:  www.nytimes.com/2016/08/26/world/…

THIS IS A VERY LATE ARRIVAL – BUT CAN IT NOW CHANGE POLICY? WILL PRESIDENT OBAMA – IN HIS LAST 10 WEEKS IN OFFICE AFTER THE NOVEMBER 2016 ELECTIONS DO WHAT IT TAKES TO DECLARE US INDEPENDENCE OF MIDDLE EAST OIL?

This article tells us what we at SustainabiliTank knew for years – the oil money was used by the Saudi Royal family to export Wahhabism to the Islamic world. This Wahhabi indoctrination gave birth to the culture of terrorism that surfaced at the 9/11 attack against humanity. The US government – that is all US governments – to be exact – starting with President Franklyn Delano Roosevelt who in his 1945 meetings at Yalta and on the ship in Suez – traded away the future of the West for the barrels of oil of the Middle East

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THE NEW YORK TIMES – Front-page August 25,2016

Saudis and Extremism:
‘Both the Arsonists
and the Firefighters’

Critics see Saudi Arabia’s export of a rigid strain of Islam as contributing to
terrorism, but the kingdom’s influence depends greatly on local conditions.

By SCOTT SHANE August 25, 2016

WASHINGTON — Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump do not agree on much, but Saudi Arabia may be an exception. She has deplored Saudi Arabia’s support for “radical schools and mosques around the world that have set too many young people on a path towards extremism.” He has called the Saudis “the world’s biggest funders of terrorism.”

The first American diplomat to serve as envoy to Muslim communities around the world visited 80 countries and concluded that the Saudi influence was destroying tolerant Islamic traditions. “If the Saudis do not cease what they are doing,”
the official, Farah Pandith, wrote last year, “there must be diplomatic, cultural and economic consequences.”

“If the Saudis do not
cease what they are
doing, there must be
diplomatic, cultural and
economic consequences.”
FARAH PANDITH, A STATE DEPARTMENT REPRESENTATIVE TO MUSLIM COMMUNITIES

“If there was going to be
an Islamic reformation in
the 20th century, the
Saudis probably prevented
it by pumping out literalism.”
THOMAS HEGGHAMMER, NORWEGIAN TERRORISM EXPERT

And hardly a week passes without a television pundit or a newspaper columnist blaming Saudi Arabia for jihadist violence.

On HBO, Bill Maher calls Saudi teachings “medieval,” adding an epithet. In The Washington Post, Fareed Zakaria writes that the Saudis have “created a monster in the world of Islam.”

The idea has become a commonplace: that Saudi Arabia’s export of the rigid, bigoted, patriarchal, fundamentalist strain of Islam known as Wahhabism has fueled global extremism and contributed to terrorism. As the Islamic State projects its menacing calls for violence into the West, directing or inspiring terrorist attacks in country after country, an old debate over Saudi influence on Islam has taken on new relevance.

What Is Wahhabism?

The Islam taught in and by Saudi Arabia is often called Wahhabism, after the 18th-century cleric who founded it. A literalist, ultraconservative form of Sunni Islam, its adherents often denigrate other Islamic sects as well as Christians and Jews.

Is the world today a more divided, dangerous and violent place because of the cumulative effect of five decades of oil-financed proselytizing from the historical heart of the Muslim world? Or is Saudi Arabia, which has often supported Western-friendly autocrats over Islamists, merely a convenient scapegoat for extremism and terrorism with many complex causes — the United States’s own actions among them?

Those questions are deeply contentious, partly because of the contradictory impulses of the Saudi state.

In the realm of extremist Islam, the Saudis are “both the arsonists and the firefighters,” said William McCants, a Brookings Institution scholar. “They promote a very toxic form of Islam that draws sharp lines between a small number of true believers and everyone else, Muslim and non-Muslim,” he said, providing ideological fodder for violent jihadists.

Yet at the same time, “they’re our partners in counterterrorism,” said Mr. McCants, one of three dozen academics, government officials and experts on Islam from multiple countries interviewed for this article.


Conflicting Goals

Saudi leaders seek good relations with the West and see jihadist violence as a menace that could endanger their rule, especially now that the Islamic State is staging attacks in the kingdom — 25 in the last eight months, by the government’s count. But they are also driven by their rivalry with Iran, and they depend for legitimacy on a clerical establishment dedicated to a reactionary set of beliefs. Those conflicting goals can play out in a bafflingly inconsistent manner.

Thomas Hegghammer, a Norwegian terrorism expert who has advised the United States government, said the most important effect of Saudi proselytizing might have been to slow the evolution of Islam, blocking its natural accommodation to a diverse and globalized world. “If there was going to be an Islamic reformation in the 20th century, the Saudis probably prevented it by pumping out literalism,” he said.

The reach of the Saudis has been stunning, touching nearly every country with a Muslim population, from the Gothenburg Mosque in Sweden to the King Faisal Mosque in Chad, from the King Fahad Mosque in Los Angeles to the Seoul Central Mosque in South Korea. Support has come from the Saudi government; the royal family; Saudi charities; and Saudi-sponsored organizations including the World Muslim League, the World Assembly of Muslim Youth and the International Islamic Relief Organization, providing the hardware of impressive edifices and the software of preaching and teaching.

There is a broad consensus that the Saudi ideological juggernaut has disrupted local Islamic traditions in dozens of countries — the result of lavish spending on religious outreach for half a century, estimated in the tens of billions of dollars. The result has been amplified by guest workers, many from South Asia, who spend years in Saudi Arabia and bring Saudi ways home with them. In many countries, Wahhabist preaching has encouraged a harshly judgmental religion, contributing to majority support in some polls in Egypt, Pakistan and other countries for stoning for adultery and execution for anyone trying to leave Islam.

But exactly how Saudi influence plays out seems to depend greatly on local conditions. In parts of Africa and Southeast Asia, for instance, Saudi teachings have shifted the religious culture in a markedly conservative direction, most visibly in the decision of more women to cover their hair or of men to grow beards. Among Muslim immigrant communities in Europe, the Saudi influence seems to be just one factor driving radicalization, and not the most significant. In divided countries like Pakistan and Nigeria, the flood of Saudi money, and the ideology it promotes, have exacerbated divisions over religion that regularly prove lethal.

For minorities in many countries, the exclusionary Saudi version of Sunni Islam, with its denigration of Jews and Christians, as well as of Muslims of Shiite, Sufi and other traditions, may have made some people vulnerable to the lure of Al Qaeda, the Islamic State and other violent jihadist groups. “There’s only so much dehumanizing of the other that you can be exposed to — and exposed to as the word of God — without becoming susceptible to recruitment,” said David Andrew Weinberg, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington who tracks Saudi influence.

Exhibit A may be Saudi Arabia itself, which produced not only Osama bin Laden, but also 15 of the 19 hijackers of Sept. 11, 2001; sent more suicide bombers than any other country to Iraq after the 2003 invasion; and has supplied more foreign fighters to the Islamic State, 2,500, than any country other than Tunisia.

Mehmet Gormez, the senior Islamic cleric in Turkey, said that while he was meeting with Saudi clerics in Riyadh in January, the Saudi authorities had executed 47 people in a single day on terrorism charges, 45 of them Saudi citizens. “I said: ‘These people studied Islam for 10 or 15 years in your country. Is there a problem with the educational system?’ ” Mr. Gormez said in an interview. He argued that Wahhabi teaching was undermining the pluralism, tolerance and openness to science and learning that had long characterized Islam. “Sadly,” he said, the changes have taken place “in almost all of the Islamic world.”

In a huge embarrassment to the Saudi authorities, the Islamic State adopted official Saudi textbooks for its schools until the extremist group could publish its own books in 2015. Out of 12 works by Muslim scholars republished by the Islamic State, seven are by Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, the 18th-century founder of the Saudi school of Islam, said Jacob Olidort, a scholar at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. A former imam of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Sheikh Adil al-Kalbani declared with regret in a television interview in January that the Islamic State leaders “draw their ideas from what is written in our own books, our own principles.”

Small details of Saudi practice can cause outsize trouble. For at least two decades, the kingdom has distributed an English translation of the Quran that in the first surah, or chapter, adds parenthetical references to Jews and Christians in addressing Allah: “those who earned Your Anger (such as the Jews), nor of those who went astray (such as the Christians).” Seyyed Hossein Nasr, a professor of Islamic studies at George Washington University and the editor in chief of the new Study Quran, an annotated English version, said the additions were “a complete heresy, with no basis in Islamic tradition.”

Accordingly, many American officials who have worked to counter extremism and terrorism have formed a dark view of the Saudi effect — even if, given the sensitivity of the relationship, they are often loath to discuss it publicly. The United States’ reliance on Saudi counterterrorism cooperation in recent years — for instance, the Saudi tip that foiled a 2010 Qaeda plot to blow up two American cargo planes — has often taken precedence over concerns about radical influence. And generous Saudi funding for professorships and research centers at American universities, including the most elite institutions, has deterred criticism and discouraged research on the effects of Wahhabi proselytizing, according to Mr. McCants — who is working on a book about the Saudi impact on global Islam — and other scholars.

One American former official who has begun to speak out is Ms. Pandith, the State Department’s first special representative to Muslim communities worldwide. From 2009 to 2014, she visited Muslims in 80 countries and concluded that Saudi influence was pernicious and universal. “In each place I visited, the Wahhabi influence was an insidious presence,” she wrote in The New York Times last year. She said the United States should “disrupt the training of extremist imams,” “reject free Saudi textbooks and translations that are filled with hate,” and “prevent the Saudis from demolishing local Muslim religious and cultural sites that are evidence of the diversity of Islam.”

Yet some scholars on Islam and extremism, including experts on radicalization in many countries, push back against the notion that Saudi Arabia bears predominant responsibility for the current wave of extremism and jihadist violence. They point to multiple sources for the rise and spread of Islamist terrorism, including repressive secular governments in the Middle East, local injustices and divisions, the hijacking of the internet for terrorist propaganda, and American interventions in the Muslim world from the anti-Soviet war in Afghanistan to the invasion of Iraq. The 20th-century ideologues most influential with modern jihadists, like Sayyid Qutb of Egypt and Abul Ala Maududi of Pakistan, reached their extreme, anti-Western views without much Saudi input. Al Qaeda and the Islamic State despise Saudi rulers, whom they consider the worst of hypocrites.

“Americans like to have someone to blame — a person, a political party or country,” said Robert S. Ford, a former United States ambassador to Syria and Algeria. “But it’s a lot more complicated than that. I’d be careful about blaming the Saudis.”

While Saudi religious influence may be disruptive, he and others say, its effect is not monolithic. A major tenet of official Saudi Islamic teaching is obedience to rulers — hardly a precept that encourages terrorism intended to break nations. Many Saudi and Saudi-trained clerics are quietist, characterized by a devotion to scripture and prayer and a shunning of politics, let alone political violence.

And especially since 2003, when Qaeda attacks in the kingdom awoke the monarchy to the danger it faced from militancy, Saudi Arabia has acted more aggressively to curtail preachers who call for violence, cut off terrorist financing and cooperate with Western intelligence to foil terrorist plots. From 2004 to 2012, 3,500 imams were fired for refusing to renounce extremist views, and another 20,000 went through retraining, according to the Ministry of Islamic Affairs — though the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom expressed skepticism that the training was really “instilling tolerance.”

An American scholar with long experience in Saudi Arabia — who spoke on condition of anonymity to preserve his ability to travel to the kingdom for research — said he believed that Saudi influence had often been exaggerated in American political discourse. But he compared it to climate change. Just as a one-degree increase in temperature can ultimately result in drastic effects around the globe, with glaciers melting and species dying off, so Saudi teaching is playing out in many countries in ways that are hard to predict and difficult to trace but often profound, the scholar said.

Saudi proselytizing can result in a “recalibrating of the religious center of gravity” for young people, the scholar said, which makes it “easier for them to swallow or make sense of the ISIS religious narrative when it does arrive. It doesn’t seem quite as foreign as it might have, had that Saudi religious influence not been there.”


Centuries-Old Dilemma

Why does Saudi Arabia find it so difficult to let go of an ideology that much of the world finds repugnant? The key to the Saudi dilemma dates back nearly three centuries to the origin of the alliance that still undergirds the Saudi state. In 1744, Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, a reformist cleric, sought the protection of Muhammad bin Saud, a powerful tribal leader in the harsh desert of the Arabian Peninsula. The alliance was mutually beneficial: Wahhab received military protection for his movement, which sought to return Muslims to what he believed were the values of the early years of Islam in the seventh century, when the Prophet Muhammad was alive. (His beliefs were a variant of Salafism, the conservative school of Islam that teaches that the salaf, or pious ancestors, had the correct ways and beliefs and should be emulated.) In return, the Saud family earned the endorsement of an Islamic cleric — a puritanical enforcer known for insisting on the death by stoning of a woman for adultery.

Wahhab’s particular version of Islam was the first of two historical accidents that would define Saudi religious influence centuries later. What came to be known as Wahhabism was “a tribal, desert Islam,” said Akbar Ahmed, the chairman of Islamic studies at American University in Washington. It was shaped by the austere environment — xenophobic, fiercely opposed to shrines and tombs, disapproving of art and music, and hugely different from the cosmopolitan Islam of diverse trading cities like Baghdad and Cairo.

The second historical accident came in 1938, when American prospectors discovered the largest oil reserves on earth in Saudi Arabia. Oil revenue generated by the Arabian-American Oil Company, or Aramco, created fabulous wealth. But it also froze in place a rigid social and economic system and gave the conservative religious establishment an extravagant budget for the export of its severe strain of Islam.

“One day you find oil, and the world is coming to you,” Professor Ahmed said. “God has given you the ability to take your version of Islam to the world.”

In 1964, when King Faisal ascended the throne, he embraced the obligation of spreading Islam. A modernizer in many respects, with close ties to the West, he nonetheless could not overhaul the Wahhabi doctrine that became the face of Saudi generosity in many countries. Over the next four decades, in non-Muslim-majority countries alone, Saudi Arabia would build 1,359 mosques, 210 Islamic centers, 202 colleges and 2,000 schools. Saudi money helped finance 16 American mosques; four in Canada; and others in London, Madrid, Brussels and Geneva, according to a report in an official Saudi weekly, Ain al-Yaqeen. The total spending, including supplying or training imams and teachers, was “many billions” of Saudi riyals (at a rate of about four to a dollar), the report said.

Saudi religious teaching had particular force because it came from the birthplace of the Prophet Muhammad, the land of Islam’s two holiest places, Mecca and Medina. When Saudi imams arrived in Muslim countries in Asia or Africa, or in Muslim communities in Europe or the Americas, wearing traditional Arabian robes, speaking the language of the Quran — and carrying a generous checkbook — they had automatic credibility.

As the 20th century progressed and people of different nationalities and faiths mixed routinely, the puritanical, exclusionary nature of Wahhab’s teachings would become more and more dysfunctional. But the Saudi government would find it extraordinarily difficult to shed or soften its ideology, especially after the landmark year of 1979.

In Tehran that year, the Iranian revolution brought to power a radical Shiite government, symbolically challenging Saudi Arabia, the leader of Sunnism, for leadership of global Islam. The declaration of an Islamic Republic escalated the competition between the two major branches of Islam, spurring the Saudis to redouble their efforts to counter Iran and spread Wahhabism around the world.

Then, in a stunning strike, a band of 500 Saudi extremists seized the Grand Mosque in Mecca for two weeks, publicly calling Saudi rulers puppets of the West and traitors to true Islam. The rebels were defeated, but leading clerics agreed to back the government only after assurances of support for a crackdown on immodest ways in the kingdom and a more aggressive export of Wahhabism abroad.

Finally, at year’s end, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan and seized power to prop up a Communist government. It soon faced an insurgent movement of mujahedeen, or holy warriors battling for Islam, which drew fighters from around the world for a decade-long battle to expel the occupiers.

Throughout the 1980s, Saudi Arabia and the United States worked together to finance the mujahedeen in this great Afghan war, which would revive the notion of noble armed jihad for Muslims worldwide. President Ronald Reagan famously welcomed to the Oval Office a delegation of bearded “Afghan freedom fighters” whose social and theological views were hardly distinguishable from those later embraced by the Taliban.

Saudi Arabia and the United States worked together to support the mujahedeen, the Afghan fighters whose representatives met President Ronald Reagan in the Oval Office in 1983, in their fight against the Soviet occupation.

In fact, the United States spent $50 million from 1986 to 1992 on what was called a “jihad literacy” project — printing books for Afghan children and adults to encourage violence against non-Muslim “infidels” like Soviet troops. A first-grade language textbook for Pashto speakers, for example, according to a study by Dana Burde, an associate professor at New York University, used “Mujahid,” or fighter of jihad, as the illustration: “My brother is a Mujahid. Afghan Muslims are Mujahedeen. I do jihad together with them. Doing jihad against infidels is our duty.”


Pressure After 9/11


One day in the months after the Sept. 11 attacks, Robert W. Jordan, the United States ambassador to Saudi Arabia, was driving in the kingdom with the longtime Saudi ambassador to the United States, Prince Bandar Bin Sultan. The prince pointed to a mosque and said, “I just fired the imam there.” The man’s preaching had been too militant, he said.

Mr. Jordan, a Texas lawyer, said that after the Qaeda attacks, he had stepped up pressure on the Saudi government over its spread of extremism. “I told them: ‘What you teach in your schools and preach in your mosques now is not an internal matter. It affects our national security,’” he said.

After years of encouraging and financing a harsh Islam in support of the anti-Soviet jihad, the United States had reversed course — gradually during the 1990s and then dramatically after the Sept. 11 attacks. But in pressuring Saudi Arabia, American officials would tread lightly, acutely aware of American dependence on Saudi oil and intelligence cooperation. Saudi reform would move at an excruciatingly slow pace.

Document: State Dept. Study on Saudi Textbooks
Twelve years after Sept. 11, after years of quiet American complaints about Saudi teachings, a State Department contractor, the International Center for Religion and Diplomacy, completed a study of official Saudi textbooks. It reported some progress in cutting back on bigoted and violent content but found that plenty of objectionable material remained. Officials never released the 2013 study, for fear of angering the Saudis. The New York Times obtained it under the Freedom of Information Act.

Seventh graders were being taught that “fighting the infidels to elevate the words of Allah” was among the deeds Allah loved the most, the report found, among dozens of passages it found troubling. Tenth graders learned that Muslims who abandoned Islam should be jailed for three days and, if they did not change their minds, “killed for walking away from their true religion.” Fourth graders read that non-Muslims had been “shown the truth but abandoned it, like the Jews,” or had replaced truth with “ignorance and delusion, like the Christians.”

Some of the books, prepared and distributed by the government, propagated views that were hostile to science, modernity and women’s rights, not to say downright quirky — advocating, for instance, execution for sorcerers and warning against the dangers of the Rotary Club and the Lions Club. (The groups’ intent, said a 10th-grade textbook, “is to achieve the goals of the Zionist movement.”)

The textbooks, or other Saudi teaching materials with similar content, had been distributed in scores of countries, the study found. Textbook reform has continued since the 2013 study, and Saudi officials say they are trying to replace older books distributed overseas.

Excerpts from Saudi textbooks with critical comments from a 2013 study, commissioned by the State Department, that was never released for fear of angering the Saudis. The New York Times obtained the study under the Freedom of Information Act.
But as the study noted, the schoolbooks were only a modest part of the Saudis’ lavishly funded global export of Wahhabism. In many places, the study said, the largess includes “a Saudi-funded school with a Wahhabist faculty (educated in a Saudi-funded Wahhabist University), attached to a mosque with a Wahhabist imam, and ultimately controlled by an international Wahhabist educational body.”

This ideological steamroller has landed in diverse places where Muslims of different sects had spent centuries learning to accommodate one another. Sayyed Shah, a Pakistani journalist working on a doctorate in the United States, described the devastating effect on his town, not far from the Afghan border, of the arrival some years ago of a young Pakistani preacher trained in a Saudi-funded seminary.

Village residents had long held a mélange of Muslim beliefs, he said. “We were Sunni, but our culture, our traditions were a mixture of Shia and Barelvi and Deobandi,” Mr. Shah said, referring to Muslim sects. His family would visit the large Barelvi shrine, and watch their Shiite neighbors as they lashed themselves in a public religious ritual. “We wouldn’t do that ourselves, but we’d hand out sweets and water,” he said.

The new preacher, he said, denounced the Barelvi and Shiite beliefs as false and heretical, dividing the community and setting off years of bitter argument. By 2010, Mr. Shah said, “everything had changed.” Women who had used shawls to cover their hair and face began wearing full burqas. Militants began attacking kiosks where merchants sold secular music CDs. Twice, terrorists used explosives to try to destroy the village’s locally famous shrine.

“One day you find oil,
and the world is coming
to you. God has given you
the ability to take your
version of Islam to the world.”
AKBAR AHMED, CHAIRMAN OF ISLAMIC STUDIES AT AMERICAN UNIVERSITY
Now, Mr. Shah said, families are divided; his cousin, he said, “just wants Saudi religion.” He said an entire generation had been “indoctrinated” with a rigid, unforgiving creed.

“It’s so difficult these days,” he said. “Initially we were on a single path. We just had economic problems, but we were culturally sound.”

He added, “But now it’s very difficult, because some people want Saudi culture to be our culture, and others are opposing that.”

C. Christine Fair, a specialist on Pakistan at Georgetown University, said Mr. Shah’s account was credible. But like many scholars describing the Saudi impact on religion, she said that militancy in Pakistan also had local causes. While Saudi money and teaching have unquestionably been “accelerants,” Pakistan’s sectarian troubles and jihadist violence have deep roots dating to the country’s origins in the partition of India in 1947.

“The idea that without the Saudis Pakistan would be Switzerland is ridiculous,” she said.


Elusive Saudi Links

That is the disputed question, of course: how the world would be different without decades of Saudi-funded shaping of Islam. Though there is a widespread belief that Saudi influence has contributed to the growth of terrorism, it is rare to find a direct case of cause and effect. For example, in Brussels, the Grand Mosque was built with Saudi money and staffed with Saudi imams. In 2012, according to Saudi diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks, one Saudi preacher was removed after Belgian complaints that he was a “true Salafi” who did not accept other schools of Islam. And Brussels’ immigrant neighborhoods, notably Molenbeek, have long been the home of storefront mosques teaching hard-line Salafi views.

After the terrorist attacks in Paris in November and in Brussels in March were tied to an Islamic State cell in Belgium, the Saudi history was the subject of several news media reports. Yet it was difficult to find any direct link between the bombers and the Saudi legacy in the Belgian capital.

Several suspects had petty criminal backgrounds; their knowledge of Islam was described by friends as superficial; they did not appear to be regulars at any mosque. Though the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the blasts, resentment of the treatment of North African immigrant families in Belgium and exposure to Islamic State propaganda, in person or via the internet and social media, appeared to be the major factors motivating the attacks.

If there was a Saudi connection, it was highly indirect, perhaps playing out over a generation or longer. Hind Fraihi, a Moroccan-Belgian journalist who went underground in the Brussels immigrant neighborhood of Molenbeek in 2005 and wrote a book about it, met Saudi-trained imams and found lots of extremist literature written in Saudi Arabia that encouraged “polarization, the sentiment of us against them, the glorification of jihad.”

The recent attackers, Ms. Fraihi said, were motivated by “lots of factors — economic frustration, racism, a generation that feels it has no future.” But Saudi teaching, she said, “is part of the cocktail.”

Without the Saudi presence over the decades, might a more progressive and accommodating Islam, reflecting immigrants’ Moroccan roots, have taken hold in Brussels? Would young Muslims raised in Belgium have been less susceptible to the stark, violent call of the Islamic State? Conceivably, but the case is impossible to prove.

Or consider an utterly different cultural milieu — the world’s most populous Muslim country, Indonesia. The Saudis have sent money for mosque-building, books and teachers for decades, said Sidney Jones, the director of the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict in Jakarta.

“Over time,” said Ms. Jones, who has visited or lived in Indonesia since the 1970s, the Saudi influence “has contributed to a more conservative, more intolerant atmosphere.” (President Obama, who lived in Indonesia as a boy, has remarked on the same phenomenon.) She said she believed money from private Saudi donors and foundations was behind campaigns in Indonesia against Shiite and Ahmadi Islam, considered heretical by Wahhabi teaching. Some well-known Indonesian religious vigilantes are Saudi-educated, she said.

But when Ms. Jones studied the approximately 1,000 people arrested in Indonesia on terrorism charges since 2002, she found only a few — “literally four or five” — with ties to Wahhabi or Salafi institutions. When it comes to violence, she concluded, the Saudi connection is “mostly a red herring.”

In fact, she said, there is a gulf between Indonesian jihadists and Indonesian Salafis who look to Saudi or Yemeni scholars for guidance. The jihadists accuse the Salafis of failing to act on their convictions; the Salafis scorn the jihadists as extremists.

Whatever the global effects of decades of Saudi proselytizing, it is under greater scrutiny than ever, from outside and inside the kingdom. Saudi leaders’ ideological reform efforts, encompassing textbooks and preaching, amount to a tacit recognition that its religious exports have sometimes backfired. And the kingdom has stepped up an aggressive public relations campaign in the West, hiring American publicists to counter critical news media reports and fashion a reformist image for Saudi leaders.

But neither the publicists nor their clients can renounce the strain of Islam on which the Saudi state was built, and old habits sometimes prove difficult to suppress. A prominent cleric, Saad bin Nasser al-Shethri, had been stripped of a leadership position by the previous king, Abdullah, for condemning coeducation. King Salman restored Mr. Shethri to the job last year, not long after the cleric had joined the chorus of official voices criticizing the Islamic State. But Mr. Shethri’s reasoning for denouncing the Islamic State suggested the difficulty of change. The group was, he said, “more infidel than Jews and Christians.”

—————————————–

Photo: The Seoul Central Mosque in South Korea, one of hundreds of mosques around the world built using Saudi donations. Credit Choi Won-Suk/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Photo: The King Fahad Mosque in Los Angeles. Credit Patrick T. Fallon for The New York Times

Photo: The United States spent millions printing textbooks for Afghan children and adults that encouraged violence against non-Muslim “infidels” like Soviet troops, as in this excerpt from a book for Pashto-speaking first graders. Credit From Dana Burde, Schools for Conflict or for Peace in Afghanistan

Photo: The Iranian revolution in early 1979 brought to power a radical Shiite government, symbolically challenging Saudi Arabia, the leader of Sunnism, for leadership of global Islam. Credit Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Photo: A wounded man at the airport in Brussels after an attack by jihadists in March. There appears to be no direct link between the bombers and the Saudi legacy in the Belgian capital. Credit Ketevan Kardava/Associated Press

Photo: During his reign from 1964 to 1975, King Faisal of Saudi Arabia, pictured here in May 1968, embraced the duty of spreading Islam around the world. Credit Raymond Depardon/Magnum Photos

Photo: Members of the Saudi security services inspecting the site of a car bomb attack in May 2015 targeting Shiite Saudis attending Friday Prayer at a mosque in Dammam, Saudi Arabia. Credit European Pressphoto Agency

Photo: Saudi oil fields developed by Aramco, the Arabian-American Oil Company, as seen in this 1951 photograph, provided generous funding for the export of the Saudi version of Islam. Credit Associated Press

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Secrets of the Kingdom

A Saudi Morals Enforcer Called for a More Liberal Islam. Then the Death Threats Began.JUL. 11, 2016

A Saudi Imam, 2 Hijackers and Lingering 9/11 Mystery JUNE 18, 2016

How Kosovo Was Turned Into Fertile Ground for ISIS MAY 22, 2016

ISIS Turns Saudis Against the Kingdom, and Families Against Their Own APRIL 1, 2016

Quiet Support for Saudis Entangles U.S. in Yemen MARCH 14, 2016

U.S. Relies Heavily on Saudi Money to Support Syrian Rebels JAN. 24, 2016

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Follow Scott Shane on Twitter @ScottShaneNYT.

Hala Droubi contributed reporting from Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

A version of this article appears in print on August 26, 2016, on page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: ‘Both Arsonists and Firefighters’. Order Reprints| Today’s Paper|Subscribe

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Saudi Prince Shares Plan to Cut Oil Dependency and Energize the Economy APRIL 25, 2016

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 15th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Why Do We Keep Learning New Secrets About 9/11?

By Charles Pierce, Esquire
14 May 16

 readersupportednews.org/opinion2/…

There are allegedly more Saudi officials implicated in the 9/11 Report than we thought.

The pointless alleged cover-up of the role of Saudi nationals in the attacks of September 11, 2001 is starting to come just a little bit unraveled.

The Guardian had a provocative piece quoting John Lehman, a Republican member of the 9/11 Commission, and a former Secretary of the Navy under Ronald Reagan, to the effect that the investigation essentially buried the question of Saudi involvement.

“There was an awful lot of participation by Saudi individuals in supporting the hijackers, and some of those people worked in the Saudi government,” Lehman said in an interview, suggesting that the commission may have made a mistake by not stating that explicitly in its final report. “Our report should never have been read as an exoneration of Saudi Arabia.” He was critical of a statement released late last month by the former chairman and vice-chairman of the commission, who urged the Obama administration to be cautious about releasing the full congressional report on the Saudis and 9/11 — “the 28 pages”, as they are widely known in Washington—because they contained “raw, unvetted” material that might smear innocent people.

I, for one, didn’t know that a Saudi diplomat had been implicated in the support network on which some of the hijackers depended while living in San Diego. (Why is Fahad al-Thumairy walking around free while shoeless losers who fall for FBI stings get shipped off to the nether regions of the federal penal system?) But Lehman wasn’t finished yet.

In the interview Wednesday, Lehman said Kean and Hamilton’s statement that only one Saudi government employee was “implicated” in supporting the hijackers in California and elsewhere was “a game of semantics” and that the commission had been aware of at least five Saudi government officials who were strongly suspected of involvement in the terrorists’ support network. “They may not have been indicted, but they were certainly implicated,” he said. “There was an awful lot of circumstantial evidence.”

Allegedly, there was a considerable brawl within the commission about how the material concerning the Saudi involvement was being handled, and at the center of it was staff director Philip Zelikow, whose previous job was as an aide to Condoleezza Rice back in the days when she was proving to be the worst National Security Advisor ever. This always has stuck in my craw, and if the stonewall is falling down, then that’s all to the good.


Zelikow fired a staffer, who had repeatedly protested over limitations on the Saudi investigation, after she obtained a copy of the 28 pages outside of official channels. Other staffers described an angry scene late one night, near the end of the investigation, when two investigators who focused on the Saudi allegations were forced to rush back to the commission’s offices after midnight after learning to their astonishment that some of the most compelling evidence about a Saudi tie to 9/11 was being edited out of the report or was being pushed to tiny, barely readable footnotes and endnotes. The staff protests were mostly overruled.

The crime against history is ongoing, but it does seem we’re edging a little closer to solving it.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 14th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


BDS: Squeezing Palestinians to Hurt Israel

by Asaf Romirowsky and Nicole Brackman in The Jerusalem Post
May 8, 2016, Re-posted by Middle East Forum

 www.meforum.org/6005/bds-squeezin…
Originally published under the title “BDS Equals Economic Warfare.”

The October 2015 closure of SodaStream’s factory in Mishor Adumim put 500 Palestinians out of work.
At the core of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement (BDS) is economic warfare meant to delegitimize and marginalize Israel. But the fatal fallacy of the movement is rooted in the fact that its proponents are hurting the very constituency they claim to represent.

Daniel Birnbaum is the CEO of SodaStream, one of Israel’s greatest commercial start-up successes. The company (made famous in a 2014 Super Bowl advertisement featuring actress Scarlett Johansson) was a pioneer in economic inclusion, establishing a factory in the West Bank and employing both Palestinian and Jewish workers (among them a high proportion of women).

Due to the ongoing violence in Syria, SodaStream also went out of its way to offer employment to Syrian refugees – one of the only Middle Eastern companies to do so. Providing an avenue to job security in skilled labor is a fundamental tenet of refugee rehabilitation policy. Israel has been at the forefront of successful refugee resettlement and absorption since the state’s inception, with the integration of close to one million Jewish refugees expelled from Arab lands.

As Birnbaum underscored in a press release,

As the son of a Holocaust survivor, I refuse to stand by and observe this human tragedy unfold right across the border in Syria… just as we have always done our best to help our Palestinian brothers and sisters in the West Bank, the time has come for local business and municipal leaders to address the Syrian humanitarian crisis and take the initiative to help those in need. We cannot expect our politicians to bear the entire burden of providing aid for the refugees.

But in October 2015, nearly 500 of the company’s Palestinian workers lost their jobs. The reason wasn’t because the company no longer wanted to employ them. It was due – at least in part – to the efforts of the BDS movement to mount enough international pressure to close the facility. Though the company denied it was a factor, the tactic worked; many of the workers were thrust into unemployment.

Notwithstanding that, SodaStream offered 1,000 positions to Syrian refugees at the company’s new facility in Rahat.

The BDS movement uses economic pressure to attempt to strong-arm the Israeli government into complying with its agenda. Its effects are wide-ranging, from political activism on college campuses to commercial guerrilla tactics, like covertly placing stickers on grocery products to draw attention to their Israeli origins.

Much of the time, its claims are laden with anti-Semitic overtones and rely on emotional appeal rather than hard data. Such tactics have far-reaching – and very counterproductive – consequences, for example, the unwillingness of the French directorate-general for international security of intelligence to accept technology offered by an Israeli security company that “could have helped counter-terror agents track suspects in real time,” undermining the chance to avert the recent deadly terrorist attacks in Paris and Belgium.

The BDS movement has had little economic impact on Israel.

Despite its aspirations, in fact BDS has had little economic impact on Israel. According to Forbes, “The impact of BDS is more psychological than real so far and has had no discernible impact on Israeli trade or the broader economy… that said, the sanctions do run the risk of hurting the Palestinian economy, which is much smaller and poorer than that of Israel.”

Israel’s centrality to US regional and global policy has not gone unnoticed; US Congress sought to cement Israel’s economic and trade ties to the US with a bipartisan bill – the US-Israel Trade and Commercial Enhancement Act – designed to counter the BDS movement and strengthen the two nations’ relationship. The bill “leverages ongoing trade negotiations to discourage prospective US trade partners from engaging in economic discrimination against Israel” and “establishes a clear US policy in opposition to state-led BDS, which is detrimental to global trade, regional peace and stability.”

The extremism that the BDS movement advocates highlights the group’s refusal to come to terms with the State of Israel and its ignorance in evaluating the landscape of greater Middle East politics.

When Syrian refugees are being offered jobs in Israel at an Israeli company it is clear how removed the BDS reality is from that of the Middle East.

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Asaf Romirowsky is the executive director of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME) and a fellow at the Middle East Forum. Nicole Brackman is a fellow at SPME.

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