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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 12th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

The elections for the UN Security Council are in:

Japan, Mexico, Turkey, Austria, Uganda have finished their two year term and will be replaced by
India, Colombia, Germany, Portugal, and South Africa.

Lebanon, Brazil, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Nigeria, and Gabon are the hold-outs for 2011.

The only real contest was for the seats in the Western European and Other States Group (WEOG). The final contest there was between Canada and Portugal. Speaking after the vote, Portuguese Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Joao Cravinho said the fact that Portugal is a smaller country appealed to other states of similar size and power.

“Our own campaign had enormous amounts of receptivity in the message that we brought about our willingness to engage closely – not just for the purposes of the campaign, but to engage closely over our tenure in the Security Council with different regional groups, with countries big and small. Our campaign was also based on the idea that countries of small or medium-sized dimension should have a voice, be present in Security Council, this message had a lot of echo and, in the end, was the basis for our success,” said Cravinho. We believe that the US would have liked to see Canada win this contest.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle told reporters that his country’s first round victory is a sign of international trust in Germany’s role in global affairs. We believe that Germany like Brazil, Japan and South Africa (G-4) should be permanent members of the UN Security Council. Next year Japan will be outside as they just completed their term.

These contests reminded us of the Island – Austria contest two years ago. Then both contenders were small States somewhat irrelevant in the UN structure – with one outside and one inside the EU. This time Canada was a larger contender, but Portugal has some similar-language former colonies that will back her. Then Iceland had the Scandinavian countries back her, but the economy was the miller’s stone around her neck – then, Austria fought as if the country’s life was at stake. In the larger context of the UN these fights point at the fact that the WEOG is a strange construct that has not got the feeling of the new UN forces yet, and is continuing under the assumption that nothing has changed, and that Europe can continue unchanged its post-World War II  multi-seating at important international bodies, even by over-ruling the non-EU members of the group. But unless the EU does unite into one strong force – these fights rather look like battles staged in an operetta.

The new elected States include India, Germany and South Africa which add up to Brazil and Nigeria from among the holdovers – to form a strongest quintet the UN has come up with in recent years. Only Japan will be missed. And let us see:

With India, South Africa and Germany winning three of the rotating non-permanent seats in the UN Security Council (UNSC), this is the first time the Security Council will witness the simultaneous presence of all BRIC, IBSA, and BASIC countries and three of the four G4 countries.

The BRIC countries comprise four emerging powers including Brazil, Russia, India and China who are set to becoming leading economies of the world by 2050. Russia and China are already permanent members of the UNSC – albeit not the original signers of the UN Charter!

Brazil was elected to a non-permanent seat last year and will remain there till end of 2011.

The IBSA comprises India, Brazil and South Africa, bringing three leading economies of three continents together.

The G4 comprising India, Brazil, Germany and Japan are aspiring for a permanent seat in the UNSC. India won the seat vacated by Japan from the Asia region.

The BASIC countries are The US and China – the so called G-2 – and IBSA. This is the leading group that chiseled out an approach to climate change in Copenhagen, will wait out changes in the US in Cancun, but will prepare some alternative approach for the 2011 meeting in Cape Town – not a moment too soon. So the UNSC will have the right configuration next year to deal with the subject.

India, as one of the four  countries seeking to expand the Security Council’s permanent membership,  G-4, U.N. Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri said his country would use its two-year term to work towards a longer-term stay on the body. He also spoke about what India’s presence will contribute to the council.

“We bring the voice of one-sixth of humanity. We have 63 years of experience in nation building, and I think that is what the U.N. can use. We have experience in peacekeeping. We would like to transcend that into peace building,” said Puri.

South Africa has returned to the council after only a two-year absence. Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said her country would work with states both inside and outside the council to keep Africa as a zone of peace, security and development. It seems that Africa gets it now – that they must have a permanent representation at the table.

The BRIC nations – Brazil, Russia, India and China – could present a united front on several contentious issues.

Earlier this year, Kazakhstan withdrew from the race leaving India as a sole runner from Asia for the two year term. The last time India had a seat on the Security Council was in 1992.

“BRIC coordination in the Security Council becomes a fact of life,” the Indian Foreign Minister said after a meeting with the foreign ministers of the three other countries.

BASIC becomes a way to tackle the global environment problems starting 2011 – we say. The subject was introduced to the UNSC by the UK in 2006 and no doubt will now come back strengthened with this new palette of members. Mexico’s membership at the Security Council, they are one of the States that are finishing their term, did nothing for Cancun – as if they were not there at all.

——

And an aside about the future of WEAG contests – for the 2013-2014 UNSC membership shift the competition in 2012 will be between Australia, Luxembourg and Finland. Australia is afraid that their fate will be similar to that of Canada this year – but we understand that Australia did not back Canada this time as it would have been even harder to replace Canada that has a similar background like Australia, then it will be to replace Portugal.

Another aside please see www.innercitypress.com/weog2junke…
It seems that some believe that the right-wing Canadian government policies had something to do with the outcome that allows the EU to end up with four out of the total 15 chairs around the UNSC horse-shoe table.

Canada until this year managed to get a seat on the Council 6 times – that is once every decade – this compared to India that had a seat also 6 times earlier – last time in 1992 – and  was badly defeated by Japan in 2006. We found a paper from Winnipeg that accuses the Harper Government directly for this loss rather then trying to understand that distributing maple syrup bottles to delegations and sending in the mounties to the UN and paying for African Ambassador junkets – simply does not work when the competitor is a multi-headed EU. It is wrong to think that the right wing government was the only reason, – the UN had no problem with Colombia even though they were opposed by the ALBA group.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 27th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

‘Son of Hamas’ warns U.S. fatally falling for lies

‘Peaceful’ Muslims following Quran’s dictate to establish ‘global Islamic state’


Posted: August 25, 2010
By Art Moore, WorldNetDaily, www.wnd.com

As the son of a Hamas co-founder who became a Christian, a spy for Israel and a consultant to the Holy Land Foundation terror-finance trial, Mosab Hassan Yousef offers a rare perspective on the Egypt-based Muslim Brotherhood – at once the spawn of nearly every major Islamic terrorist group and of “mainstream” operatives in the U.S. such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Yousef, who recently was granted asylum in the U.S. after the Department of Homeland Security tried to deport him, told WND in a telephone interview Americans must understand that the ultimate goal of the highly influential Brotherhood is not terrorism but to establish a global Islamic state over the entire world.

“If they can establish this in a peaceful manner, that’s fine,” he said. “But they are required by the Quran to establish this global Islamic state on the rubble of every civilization, every constitution, every government.”

The Holy Land Foundation trial in Dallas in 2008 – the largest terror-finance case in U.S. history – presented evidence of the Muslim Brotherhood’s “100-year plan” to gradually destroy the U.S. and Western civilization from within “so that it is eliminated and Allah’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.”

“This is not a doctrine of some freak Muslim,” Yousef observed. “It’s the doctrine, the requirement, of the god of Islam himself and his prophet, whom they praise every day.”

One of the Brotherhood’s prime strategies to help achieve its ultimate aim is to spin off groups such as the Washington, D.C.-based Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, that attempt to give Islam a positive face, he pointed out.

 

CAIR, casting itself as a human rights organization, has often been called on by government and media to represent Muslims in the U.S. But it’s origin as a front group for the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas is now widely documented, including in the WND Books best-selling expose “Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld That’s Conspiring to Islamize America”

CAIR and some of its leaders were confirmed by the Justice Department as unindicted co-conspirators in the trial of the Texas-based Holy Land Foundation, which was convicted of helping fund Hamas. An FBI letter to lawmakers in April 2009 explained the bureau suspended all formal contacts with CAIR because of evidence the group was founded as a front in the U.S. for Hamas. Among numerous government relationships, CAIR leaders had regular meetings with top FBI brass on security issues and helped lead FBI Muslim “sensitivity training” sessions.

At the Holy Land Foundation trial, the FBI presented a transcript from a wiretap of a 1993 meeting in Philadelphia in which Hamas supporters sought to establish Muslim organizations in the U.S. “whose Islamic hue is not very conspicuous.” CAIR was soon founded by two Palestinian participants in the Philadelphia meeting, Omar Ahmad and Nihad Awad.


The Fox News Channel’s Martha MacCallum with CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad

Wiretaps revealed Ahmad argued for using Muslims as an “entry point” to “pressure Congress and the decision makers in America” to change U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. One FBI official quoted in “Muslim Mafia” says CAIR and the other Muslim Brotherhood front groups differ from al-Qaida only in their methods.

“The only difference between the guys in the suits and the guys with the AK-47s is timing and tactics,” the official explained.

CAIR, meanwhile – which has more than a dozen former and current leaders with known associations with violent jihad – is trying to keep alive a lawsuit against WND and two investigators behind “Muslim Mafia.”

While CAIR repeatedly has denied it receives foreign support, the covert operation that produced “Muslim Mafia” obtained video footage that captured CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper boasting of his ability to bring in a half million dollars of “overseas money,” including from Saudi Arabia.

Money continues to flow in the other direction, as well, Yousef said.

He noted the FBI documented that the Holy Land Foundation sent $12.4 million from the U.S. to Hamas committees. But based on his 10 years of experience as a spy for the Israeli internal security service Shin Bet, he believes many times that amount has been smuggled to Hamas in cash.

As an example, Yousef cited the case of a Palestinian terror operative he met in prison who was arrested transporting $100,000 after Shin Bet provided information to law enforcement authorities.

“I guarantee you that there still people who collect money in mosques that go directly to Hamas in cash,” Yousef said. “And this is a problem that the government doesn’t have control over. Obama doesn’t have control over this money.”

‘Hamas is the Muslim Brotherhood’

Hamas itself was formed in 1987 as part of the Muslim Brotherhood’s strategy to advance the movement by spinning off new organizations, Yousef said.

“If they have a confrontation with Israel as the Muslim Brotherhood, they are going to pay a very high price,” he explained. “So they choose people like my father, from the Muslim Brotherhood originally, and they ask them to establish an independent movement that shares the same exact doctrine.”

As WND reported, Yousef worked alongside his father, Sheik Hassan Yousef, in the West Bank city of al-Ghaniya near Ramallah while secretly embracing Christian faith and serving as a Shin Bet spy. Since publicly declaring his faith in August 2008, he has been condemned by an al-Qaida-affiliated group and disowned by his family.

The Muslim Brotherhood, founded in the 1920s in the wake of the collapse of the Ottoman Turkish empire, considers itself an instrument of the charge Muslims have been given since Islam’s founding 1,400 years ago – to make the Quran and Allah’s authority supreme over the entire world.

Along with CAIR, prominent U.S. organizations launched by Muslim Brotherhood leaders include the Muslim Students Association, North American Islamic Trust, the Islamic Society of North America, the American Muslim Council, the Muslim American Society and the International Institute of Islamic Thought.

Yousef said, “we have to ask ourselves all the time, what is the goal of the Muslim Brotherhood? Ask them, ‘What do you want?'”

He said the Muslim Brotherhood “will keep the hope and the ultimate goal very clear in the eyes of every Muslim who belongs to the organization that one day [we will] establish an Islamic state and establish Shariah law.”

In unusually candid moments, CAIR leaders have expressed that aim.

CAIR founder Ahmad was reported telling a Muslim group in the San Francisco Bay area that Islam isn’t in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant and that the Quran should become the highest authority in America and Islam the only accepted religion on Earth. CAIR spokesman Hooper indicated in a 1993 interview with the Minneapolis Star Tribune he wants to see the U.S. become a Muslim country “through education.”

The West, Yousef said, has fallen for the “lie” that there are two types of Islam, radical and moderate. While there may be individual Muslims who are radical or moderate, Islam itself is not moderate, he contends.

“Let’s learn what Islam says about itself,” Yousef said. “Forget about what the Muslim Brotherhood, what al-Qaida, what Hezbollah – what even Americans or Westerners say about Islam. Let’s study and see what Islam says about itself, then we will understand why we have this problem.”

‘Buying the lie’

American foreign policy, especially under President Obama, he said, has “bought the lie of Muslim groups who are trying to make Islam look good in the eyes of Westerners.”


Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf

Because of that approach, he said, Muslim leaders such as Feisal Abdul Rauf have developed “the courage to come forward with a very aggressive symbol” of Islamic authority, the proposed Islamic center and mosque near the site of the 2001 World Trade Center attacks.

“If it was any other American president, we wouldn’t have this aggressive step,” Yousef contended.

He noted the State Department has designated Rauf an ambassador to the Muslim world despite the imam’s unwillingness to condemn Hamas as a terrorist group.

“Of course, he cannot condemn Hamas, because he knows that Hamas is an organization that is doing the will of Allah,” Yousef said. “How can he condemn an organization that serves the same god that he worships every day five times?”

Yousef pointed out Rauf  has claimed Obama based his highly publicized Cairo speech to the Muslim world last year on a chapter from the Arabic version of Rauf’s book, “A Call to Prayer From the World Trade Center: Islamic Dawah in the Heart of America Post-9/11.” Obama asserted in the speech that violent extremists have exploited tensions between Muslims and the West, insisting Islam was not part of the problem but part of promoting peace.

‘This is the red line’


Mosab Hassan Yousef

Defenders of the proposed Ground Zero mosque cite American Muslims’ First Amendment freedoms to practice their religion.

But Yousef makes a distinction between Islam and other religions, arguing Islam is a subversive system that threatens America’s very existence.

“Even if it’s a religion, and 1.5 billion people around the world believe in it, this doesn’t mean that they are right; and this doesn’t mean that we compromise with them,” he said. “We tell them, ‘You’re accepted, but guess what? This is the red line: We don’t compromise with your god. We don’t compromise with your belief system.'”

Yousef reasoned that he certainly would not be allowed to create a religion in which he demanded that his followers kill everyone who doesn’t embrace his beliefs.

“Will I be able to register this religion here and build my symbols for this religion in this country?” he asked. “I will go to jail for that – and all my followers as well.”

‘A matter of life and death’

No one in the Middle East has the courage or the power to confront Islam, he said, but transformation can start in the most powerful country in the world.

“Instead of giving Islam credit, this is the country where we can start to fight – not against Muslims, against the bad teachings of Islam.”

Americans can begin, he said, by “understanding the real nature of Islam.”

“I am telling you, this is not a matter of politics,” he said. “It’s a matter of life and death. It’s a matter of hundreds of millions who have been killed because of this deadly ideology of Islam that has been here 1,400 years.”


Mosab Hassan Yousef in 2008 interview with Al-Hayat TV (Middle East Media Research Institute)

“This is the time” to speak out, he said, “especially here in America. This is the time to stand firm and strong against this crazy, big system.”

Yousef said that while some may want to “scare people about Islam” for some kind of financial or personal profit, he is speaking out because of his concern for America and as “a person who loves my people.”

“I cannot wait for them to be liberated,” he said of his fellow Palestinians and Muslims worldwide. “And when I see the example of liberty and freedom in this country, I want this to go to my people.”

If America leads the way in confronting Islam, change can come, he said.

“But if the country of liberty and freedom welcomes a radical and violent belief that wants to destroy everything, we won’t be able to defeat them,” he said.

“This is why we need to work all together. This is not for America only. This is for the world. This is for the future of humanity.”

—————————————————————————————————————————————————–

To the above, please add the news in the press that the opposition in Egypt is uniting with Mohammad El Baradei making now common front with The Muslim Brotherhood. Then see the arming by France and Russia of the weak Lebanese army and the Syrian army with the high chance that some of the arms will end up with the Syrian directly sponsored pro-Brotherhood groups. What is by now forgotten is that once, under President Nasser of Egypt – Syria, Egypt, and Iraq (one star, two stars, three stars on their flags) were supposed to unite and form the kernel of the new Arab Islamic Nation. In this context what do you think of the arming of Saudi Arabia by the US? How will fault line develop? Is this doable?

—————————————————————————————————————————————————–

Israel, U.S. Seek to Block French Anti-Tank Missile Sale to Lebanon (Jerusalem Post)
Israel and the U.S. are attempting to prevent a French-Lebanese arms deal, the Arabic daily Asharq al-Awsat reported Friday.
French Defense Minister Herve Moran offered to sell Lebanon 100 HOT anti-tank missiles for the Gazelle helicopters already in use by the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF).
Washington has grown increasingly skittish over arming the Lebanese military amid concerns that the LAF may become engaged in a fight with Israel, an American ally, or be co-opted by the terrorist group Hizbullah.
See also European Anti-Tank Missiles Effective Against Explosive Reactive Armor (army-technology.com)
HOT is a long-range anti-tank mi ssile that can be operated from a vehicle or helicopter.
The HOT 3 has a 6.5 kg. tandem charge warhead which is effective against Explosive Reactive Armor (ERA), penetrating up to 1,300 mm.
When the missile reaches the target, the forward charge is ejected, which explodes, detonating the ERA. After a delay, the main charge then explodes.


Israel Working to Thwart Russian Arms Deal with Syria – Barak Ravid (Ha’aretz)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has asked Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to stop the sale to Syria of advanced anti-ship missiles.
Israel considers the sale of P-800 Yakhont supersonic cruise missiles to Syria a significant danger to its navy vessels in the Mediterranean Sea.
Netanyahu told Putin that missiles Russia had delivered to Syria in the past were then transferred to Hizbullah and used against IDF troops during the Second Lebanon War.
The highly accurate P-800 has a maximum range of 300 km., carries a 200-kg. warhead, and can cruise several meters above the surface, making it difficult to identify on radar.

——————————————————————————————————————————————————-

Israeli-Palestinian Direct Talks and the Art of Low Expectations – Shmuel Rosner
The time may be right for the Obama administration, but it is hardly right for the parties involved. Israel and its prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, think Iran is a more urgent priority. They believe the Palestinian problem can wait a little longer, and they see no Palestinian leaders they can make deals with. The Palestinian Authority and its president, Mahmoud Abbas, were dragged to these talks kicking and screaming, they don’t seem to intend to give an inch, and they have a hard time dealing with criticism from Hamas, Syria, and other regional belligerents. “There’s clearly a trust deficit that we’re going to have to find a way to overcome,” longtime special envoy Dennis Ross explained. When direct talks were finally announced, not all the Israeli newspapers bothered to carry the news on their front pages. Been there, done that. ( Slate)

{please read that article and see the ending}
.
.

There used to be a reason for setting low expectations. We were once told that low expectations lead to happiness. You lower your expectation in the hope that humility will help you achieve your goals. You lower your expectations hoping that you will be pleasantly surprised by a more positive outcome. But the Israeli-Palestinian peace process seems to be the outlier, the case in which low expectations have no role to play, no goal to serve, no hope to provide. In this case, low expectations seem to be just, well, a sober description of reality. In this case, the strategy of low expectations is just another casualty of this neverending conflict. And that is one good reason to want these talks to begin.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 22nd, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

THE FILM ‘LEBANON’: INSIDE AN ISRAELI TANK AND THE REALITY OF WAR.

21 August 2010

lebanon-aug-21

By J. Hoberman
SFWeekly.com

Lebanon, written and directed by Samuel Maoz, is not just the year’s most impressive first feature but also the strongest new movie of any kind I’ve seen in 2010. Actually, Lebanon — which won the Golden Lion at Venice, after being rejected by Berlin and Cannes — hardly seems like a debut, perhaps because it’s based on a scenario Maoz had been replaying in his head for nearly 30 years.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 22nd, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

We feel that if the data here is accurate, Arab business is rather looking for new talent in the new world. We believe that most young recruits to businesses in North Africa and the Middle East are returning young talent and that this positions well these business companies for the changing global atmosphere. It is rather that then looking to hire on the cheap. The business slow down has just helped refresh the human capital of MENA (The Middle East – North Africa Arab region).

—————

 www.arabianbusiness.com/595422-me…

MENA firms hire new graduates to cut costs – poll

by

Elsa Baxter,  Sunday, 22 August 2010.

GRADUATES: 37.6 percent of people said their employers preferred to hire fresh graduates post recession. (Getty Images)

GRADUATES: 37.6 percent of people said their employers preferred to hire fresh graduates post recession. (Getty Images)

Almost 40 percent of Middle East and North African (MENA) employees said their company was more interested in hiring new university graduates since the global recession, according to the latest poll by Bayt.com.

The survey, which consulted 13,197 respondents from across the region, found that 37.6 percent of people said their employers preferred to hire fresh graduates, while 26.4 percent said they were less inclined to do so. A further 19.2 percent of respondents said things were unchanged.

More than half (51.7 percent) of participants said the number one motivation behind the hiring was financial because new graduates command lower salaries and fewer benefits, while 12.7 percent said it was because they would have more passion for the job.

A further 10.4 percent it was because new graduates would have more creativity, 8.4 percent said it was due to their fresh analytical thinking, and 5.1 percent cited better communication skills. {our math says this is 37.6% or that one out of 2,9 respondents was honest about the motives. The others belong to the commonly held  idea that age makes people wiser while we rather think that today ag makes most people more obsolete}

“The results of our most recent poll show that in times of economic strife employers are perceived as more likely to hire fresh graduates mostly due to the fact that they accept a lower salary and require fewer benefits,” said Amer Zureikat, vice president of sales, Bayt.com.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 22nd, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

The US is pulling out its combat forces from Iraq, but the Sunday TV main topic was THE MOSQUE.  As always – the best conversation was on Fareed Zakaria’s CNN/GPS program.

His guest were Bret Stephens from The Wall Street Journal and Peter Beinart – Senior Political Writer at the blog The Daily Beast, Associate Professor of Journalism and Political Science at the City University of New York, and a Schwartz Senior Fellow at the New America Foundation – till 2006 he was with The New Republic and still lives in Washington DC.

Stephens said that the legalities are clear but the issue is if this Mosque at that location advances interface dialogue and the answer is NO!

Beinart said you cannot divorce the right for building a Mosque from the right to decide where to build it. What about military bases? Will you next say that because there is sensitivity to Americans killed in wars in Muslim countries you cannot have a Mosque on a military base?

Stephens asked – wait – what if the German Government decides to build a tolerance center across the street from a concentration camp – this is much more like the present case.

Zakaria said – that is about irrational sensitivity – do you call this bigotry?

Stephens answered that the rights are indisputable and Bret said that you cannot ask people in the right not to use the right – this is equal to taking away the right.

Zakaria concluded that we talk past each other so the discussion is over. And that is the true state of these matters today.

We hope that Zakaria realizes now that his returning a prize to the ADL of the Bnei Brith was – well – premature.

Also, as he said that the discussion is really not ended – we suggest he invites next time also Anne Barnard whose article in today’s New York Times he did mention.

Anne Barnard is now on the city desk of the paper, but she is not a newcomer to these issues as sh worked in the Middle East – in Israel, Palestine, Iraq and Egypt. She has seen sensitivities from very close – not your regular city desk person. We know Anne for many years – actually since she was a kid – and have met her in different locations as well. We continue here with her material and hope she continues to keep her sights on the developments we expect when Imam Raouf returns from his Middle East tour.

———-

Further comments about Beinart. His parents immigrated to the US from South Africa and work in Cambridge where he was born. His mother remarried theater personality Robert Brustein. Beinart is Jewish and belongs to a liberal synagogue in Washington.

Peter Beinart has written: “The Icarus Syndrome – A History of American Hubris,” HarperCollins, June 1, 2010, and
“The Good Fight: Why Liberals–and Only Liberals–Can Win the War on Terror and Make America Great Again,” HarperCollins, May 2006,

Beinart was a supporter of the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.[7] and in a recent essay, he has argued that the tensions between liberalism and Zionism in the U.S. may tear the two historically-linked concepts apart.[8]

After leaving The New Republic, in 2007-2009, Beinart was a Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

———-

Further comments about Bret Stephens: He was born in 1973 and grew up in Mexico City. Stephens went to the University of Chicago and the London School of Economics.[2]

Stephens began his career at the Journal as an op-ed editor in New York and later worked as an editorial writer for the Wall Street Journal Europe in Brussels. In 2006 he took over the “Global View” column from George Melloan, who has retired.

Between 2002 and 2004 Stephens was editor-in-chief of the Jerusalem Post, a position he assumed at age 28 – the youngest person ever to hold that position. He is the winner of the 2008 Eric Breindel Award for Excellence in Opinion Journalism.
In 2005, Stephens was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum, where he was previously a media fellow. He is also a frequent contributor to Commentary magazine.[3]

———

Fareed Zakaria promised that on his program this emotional discussion will be rational – what he did not say was that he is in effect pitting against each other two well qualified Jews. We do not believe that THE MOSQUE – that is that particular Mosque – is only an issue for Jews. We indeed believe that his next panel will pull in other “suffering souls” as well.

————————————————–

Feisal Abdul Rauf’s Balancing Act in Mosque Furor – NYTimes.com

The full article by our friend Anne Barnard, as above, but as published front page The New York Times had the title:
Complicated Balancing Act for Imam in Mosque Furor – Complicated Balancing Act for Imam.

 www.nytimes.com/2010/08/22/nyregi…

It includes The Imam’s history and his father’s history – both of them highly interesting people. While the father was an employee of the Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, and eventually led to the construction of the New York Islamic Center cum Mosque at the corner of East 96th Street and 3rd Avenue in Manhattan, Feisal became the Imam of the Sufi congregation downtown. Then he attempted also the building of a large Center cum Mosque.


William Sauro/The New York Times

Mr. Abdul Rauf’s father, Muhammad, in 1968. He ran the Islamic Center of New York.

————————-

Far away from New York, in Bend Oregon (by Western Communications, Inc.) retained the New York Times in print – name of the article – but our friend’s article was reshaped  as follows:

 bbedit.sx.atl.publicus.com/apps/p…

Complicated balancing act for imam in mosque furor.

By Anne Barnard / New York Times News Service

Published: August 22. 2010 4:00AM PST

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf inside his mosque, housed in a building near the World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan, in November. “We want to push back against the extremists,” the cleric says. Others worry about an anti-Muslim backlash. - Michael Appleton / New York Times News Service

Michael Appleton / New York Times News Service

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf inside his mosque, housed in a building near the World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan, in November. “We want to push back against the extremists,” the cleric says. Others worry about an anti-Muslim backlash.

For years, Feisal Abdul Rauf has encountered distrust as he tries to reconcile Islam with the West. -

For years, Feisal Abdul Rauf has encountered distrust as he tries to reconcile Islam with the West.

Muslims need to understand and soothe Americans who fear them; they should be conciliatory, not judgmental, toward the West.

That was Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf’s message, but not everyone in the Cairo lecture hall last February was buying it. As he talked of reconciliation between America and Middle Eastern Muslims — his voice soft, almost New Agey — some questions were so hostile that he felt the need to declare that he was not an American agent.

But one young Egyptian asked: Wasn’t the United States financing the speaking tour that had brought the imam to Cairo because his message conveniently echoed U.S. interests?

“I’m not an agent from any government, even if some of you may not believe it,” the imam replied. “I’m not. I’m a peacemaker.”

That talk, recorded on video six months ago, was part of what now might be called Abdul Rauf’s prior life, before he became the center of an uproar over his proposal for a Muslim community center two blocks from the World Trade Center site. He watched his father, an Egyptian Muslim scholar, pioneer interfaith dialogue in 1960s New York; led a mystical Sufi mosque in Lower Manhattan; and, after the Sept. 11 attacks, became a spokesman for the notion that being American and Muslim is no contradiction — and that a truly American brand of Islam could modernize and moderate the faith worldwide.

In recent weeks, Abdul Rauf has barely been heard from as a national political debate explodes over his dream project, including somewhere in its planned 15 stories near ground zero, a mosque. Opponents have called his project an act of insensitivity, even a monument to terror.

In his absence — he is now on another Middle East speaking tour sponsored by the U.S. State Department — a host of allegations have been floated: that he supports terrorism; that his father, who worked at the behest of the Egyptian government, was a militant; that his publicly expressed views mask stealth extremism. Some charges, the available record suggests, are unsupported. Some are simplifications of his ideas. In any case, calling him a jihadist appears even less credible than calling him a U.S. agent.

Growing up in America

Abdul Rauf, 61, grew up in multiple worlds. He was raised in a conservative religious home but arrived in America as a teenager in the turbulent 1960s; his father came to New York and later Washington to run growing Islamic centers. His parents were taken hostage not once, but twice, by American Muslim splinter groups. He attended Columbia University, where, during the Six-Day War between Israel and Arab states like Egypt, he talked daily with a Jewish classmate, each seeking to understand the other’s perspective.

He consistently denounces violence. Some of his views on the interplay between terrorism and American foreign policy — or his search for commonalities between Islamic law and this country’s Constitution — have proved jarring to some American ears, but still place him as pro-American within the Muslim world. He devotes himself to befriending Christians and Jews — so much, some Muslim Americans say, that he has lost touch with their own concerns.

“To stereotype him as an extremist is just nuts,” said the Very Rev. James Morton, the longtime dean of the Church of St. John the Divine, in Manhattan, who has known the family for decades.

Since 9/11, Abdul Rauf, like almost any Muslim leader with a public profile, has had to navigate the fraught path between those suspicious of Muslims and eager to brand them violent or disloyal and a Muslim constituency that believes itself more than ever in need of forceful leaders.

One critique of the imam, said Omid Safi, a professor of religious studies at the University of North Carolina, is that he has not been outspoken enough on issues “near and dear to many Muslims,” from Israel policy to treatment of Muslims after 9/11, “because of the need that he has had — whether taken upon himself or thrust upon him — to be the ‘American imam,’ to be the ‘New York imam,’ to be the ‘accommodationist imam.’ “

Akbar Ahmed, chairman of Islamic studies at American University, said Abdul Rauf’s holistic Sufi practices could make more-orthodox Muslims uncomfortable, and his focus on like-minded interfaith leaders made him underestimate the uproar over his plans.

“He hurtles in, to the dead-center eye of the storm simmering around Muslims in America, expecting it to be like at his mosque — we all love each other, we all think happy thoughts,” said Ahmed.

“Now he has set up, unwittingly, a symbol of this growing tension between America and Muslims: this mosque that Muslims see as a symbol of Islam under attack and the opponents as an insult to America,” he added. “So this mild-mannered guy is in the eye of a storm for which he’s not suited at all. He’s not a political leader of Muslims, yet he now somehow represents the Muslim community.”

Andrew Sinanoglou, who was married by Abdul Rauf last fall, said he was surprised the imam had become a contentious figure. His greatest knack, he said, was making disparate groups comfortable, as at the wedding bringing together Sinanoglou’s family, descended from Greek Christians thrown out of Asia Minor by Muslims, with his wife’s conservative Muslim father.

“He’s an excellent schmoozer,” Sinanoglou said of the imam.

Many different Islamic influences

Abdul Rauf was born in Kuwait. His father, Muhammad Abdul Rauf, was one of many graduates of Cairo’s Al-Azhar University, the foremost center of mainstream Sunni Muslim learning, whom Egypt sent abroad to staff universities and mosques, a government-approved effort unlikely to have tolerated a militant. He moved his family to England, studying at Cambridge and the University of London; then to Malaysia, where he eventually became the first rector of the International Islamic University of Malaysia.

As a boy, Abdul Rauf absorbed his father’s talks with religious scholars from around the world, learning to respect theological debate, said his wife, Daisy Khan. He is also steeped in Malaysian culture, whose ethnic diversity has influenced an Islam different from that of his parents’ homeland.

In 1965, he came to New York. His father ran the Islamic Center of New York; the family lived over its small mosque in a brownstone on West 72nd Street, which served mainly Arabs and African-American converts. Like his son, the older imam announced plans for a community center for a growing Muslim population — the mosque eventually built on East 96th Street. It was paid for by Muslim countries and controlled by Muslim U.N. diplomats — at the time a fairly noncontroversial proposition. Like his son, he joined interfaith groups, invited by James of St. John the Divine.

Hostage crisis

Unlike his son, he was conservative in gender relations; he asked his wife to not drive. But in 1977, he was heading the Islamic Center in Washington when they were taken hostage by a Muslim faction; it was his wife who challenged the gunmen on their lack of knowledge of Islam.

“My husband didn’t open his mouth, but I really gave it to them,” she told The New York Times then.

Meanwhile, Abdul Rauf studied physics at Columbia.

In his 20s, Abdul Rauf dabbled in teaching and real estate, married an American-born woman and had three children. Studying Islam and searching for his place in it, he was asked to lead a Sufi mosque, Masjid al-Farah. It was one of few with a female prayer leader, where women and men sit together at some rituals and some women do not cover their hair. And it was 12 blocks from the World Trade Center.

Divorced, he met his second wife, Khan, when she came to the mosque looking for a gentler Islam than the politicized version she rejected after Iran’s revolution. Theirs is an equal partnership, whether Abdul Rauf is shopping and cooking a hearty soup, she said, or running organizations that promote an American-influenced Islam.

A similar idea comes up in the Cairo video. Abdul Rauf, with Khan, unveiled as usual, beside him, tells a questioner not to worry so much about one issue of the moment — Switzerland’s ban on minarets — saying Islam has always adapted to and been influenced by places it spreads to. “Why not have a mosque that looks Swiss?” he joked. “Make a mosque that looks like Swiss cheese. Make a mosque that looks like a Rolex.”

In the 1990s, the couple became fixtures of the interfaith scene, even taking a cruise to Spain and Morocco with prominent rabbis and pastors.

Abdul Rauf also founded the Shariah Index Project — an effort to formally rate which governments best follow Islamic law. Critics see in it support for Taliban-style Shariah or imposing Islamic law in America.

Shariah, though, like Jewish law, has a spectrum of interpretations. The ratings, Kahn said, measure how well states uphold Shariah’s core principles like rights to life, dignity and education, not Taliban strong points. The imam has written that some Western states unwittingly apply Shariah better than self-styled Islamic states that kill wantonly, stone women and deny education — to him, violations of Shariah.

After 9/11, Abdul Rauf was all over the airwaves denouncing terrorism, urging Muslims to confront its presence among them, and saying that killing civilians violated Islam. He wrote a book, “What’s Right With Islam Is What’s Right With America,” asserting the congruence of American democracy and Islam.

That ample public record — interviews, writings, sermons — is now being examined by opponents of the downtown center.

Those opponents repeat often that Abdul Rauf, in one radio interview, refused to describe the Palestinian group that pioneered suicide bombings against Israel, Hamas, as terrorist. In the lengthy interview, Abdul Rauf clumsily tries to say that people around the globe define terrorism differently and labeling any group would sap his ability to build bridges. He also says: “Targeting civilians is wrong. It is a sin in our religion,” and, “I am a supporter of the state of Israel.”

“If I were an imam today I would be saying, ‘What am I supposed to do?’” said John Esposito, a professor of Islamic studies at Georgetown University. “‘Can an imam be critical of any aspect of U.S. foreign policy? Can I weigh in on things that others could weigh in on?’ Or is someone going to say, ‘He’s got to be a radical!’”

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Could it be that the solution leads to a true CORDOBA HOUSE OF CULTURE AND INTER-RELIGIOUS UNDERSTANDING with all Cordoba three religions having footholds at the center – not  a Mosque.

In this case what if Rabbi Marc Schneier who started together with the East 96 Street Islamic Center’s Imams his good-will exchanges gets a foothold and offices there? The Battery Park Holocaust Museum could be linked, and the Archbishop of the Trinity Church of the neighborhood as well – that is with offices in the building. This would call for a joint board and joint ownership in the name of good intentions. It would be considered a step towards healing within the possible of the memory of 9/11/o1 within reach of the 10th memorial of the event. Clearly – this does not answer the call for a larger Mosque, neither will this be a place with Synagogue and church – we know that the institutions must be separate.

If separation is preferred, then a gesture of exchange of real estate for a different location would be appreciated.

——————————————————————

President Obama also went on TV today – breaking his vacation because of the media attacks on him branding him a Muslim.

Obama blamed this crazzy media culture when the main issue is the pulling out from Iraq but the focus is on “THE MOSQUE” – is this just an August diversion? By whom?

Michel Martin (an Emmy Award winning American journalist and correspondent for ABC News and National Public Radio. After ten years in print journalism, Martin has for the last 15 years become best known for her news broadcasting on national topics.), asks whom are we talking about as media? It is just the Conservative Pundits that keep on drumming? Or is there by now a symbiotic relationship between the right wing bloggers and the main-stream media? It does not make sense to pretend that there is not a concern with Islam. We heard on TV that Glen Beck said Lincoln Day has no meaning for him – so he calls for a rally at the mall on that day. Aha I said – if that is so – why do you expect more consideration from adherents of Islam – Americans or otherwise? Are Americans so dam by now that they cannot see that insensitivity breeds more insensitivity?

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 5th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

U.N. Supports Israeli Account of Border Clash.

Mohammed Zaatari/Associated Press

United Nations peacekeepers, right, on their armored vehicle, monitored the area as an Israeli mechanical grabber operated near the border area with Lebanon, in the southern village of Adaisseh, on Wednesday.

By ISABEL KERSHNER
Published: August 4, 2010

JERUSALEM — The United Nations peacekeeping force in South Lebanon, Unifil, said on Wednesday it had concluded that Israeli forces were cutting trees that lay within their own territory before a lethal exchange of fire with Lebanese Army troops on Tuesday, largely vindicating Israel’s account of how the fighting started.

Ali Hashisho/Reuters

United Nations peacekeepers patrolled near a poster of Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah near Adaisseh in southern Lebanon on Wednesday.

An Israeli commander, two Lebanese soldiers and a Lebanese journalist were killed in the border skirmish, the worst clash in the area in four years. But the border region was calm on Wednesday as Israel’s leaders appeared to try to cool the atmosphere. Israel’s defense minister, Ehud Barak, told Israel Radio that the Israeli response to what he called a “provocation” by the Lebanese Army had been “correct” and “measured,” and said there was a need to ensure that a local incident did not turn into a crisis.

Israeli citizens and vacationers in northern Israel were told to carry on as normal, and that there was no need for special precautions. Israeli forces completed their task of pruning brush in the area of the confrontation without incident, according to an Israeli military spokeswoman.

Lebanon had said that the confrontation started after Israeli soldiers crossed into Lebanese territory to cut down a tree. Israel said its forces were clearing brush as part of routine maintenance work in a gap between the so-called Blue Line, the internationally recognized border, and its security fence. Israel said it had coordinated its actions in advance with Unifil.

In a statement on Wednesday, Unifil said its investigators were still on the ground and that inquiries were continuing.

“Unifil established, however, that the trees being cut by the Israeli Army are located south of the Blue Line on the Israeli side,” it said.

Unifil added that in the area in question, the Lebanese government had “some reservations concerning the Blue Line,” which was demarcated by the United Nations when Israel withdrew its forces from Lebanon in 2000, “as did the Israeli government at some other locations.”

But both sides committed themselves to respecting the line as identified, Unifil added, saying the United Nations believed “that the Blue Line must be respected in its entirety by all parties.”

Mark Regev, a spokesman for the Israeli government, said the announcement “clearly corroborates the Israeli version — that our routine activity was conducted in its entirety south of the frontier, and that the Lebanese Army opened fire without provocation and without any justification whatsoever.”

Lebanon acknowledged on Wednesday that the trees were south of the Blue Line, but maintained that they were in its territory. Lebanon’s information minister, Tarek Mitri, told reporters that his country disputed the demarcation of the Blue Line in that area.

Each side had blamed the other in the hours after the gunfire, trading accusations of violating the United Nations Security Council resolution that underpins the four-year-old cease-fire.

A senior American official in Washington said that the Lebanese military appeared to have been responsible for starting the gunfire.

Israeli military officials insisted that the attack on their forces was premeditated. They pointed to internal tensions in Lebanon and what they said was the growing influence of Hezbollah, the Shiite, Iranian-backed militia, on certain elements within the Lebanese Army.

But Mr. Barak, the Israeli defense minister, said Wednesday that the incident had not been planned by the Lebanese General Staff and that Hezbollah was not a partner to it.

Isabel Kershner reported from Jerusalem, and Nada Bakri from Beirut, Lebanon. Neil MacFarquhar contributed reporting from the United Nations.

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(The sad thing is that 4 people lost their lives in that Lebanese over reaction, and the Israeli truth is underlined once more that on the Israeli side it is usually the commander who gets hit – this because he knows he is in the right and tries to calm the situation though not being helped from the other side. That is an old story corroborated just one more time.}

————-

THE UPDATE:

UN DAILY NEWS from the
UNITED NATIONS NEWS SERVICE

5 August, 2010

UNESCO CHIEF DEPLORES KILLING OF LEBANESE JOURNALIST

The head of the United Nations agency tasked with upholding press freedom today expressed deep concern over the death of Lebanese journalist Assaf Abu Rahal, who was killed during an exchange of gunfire along Lebanon’s border with Israel that also claimed the lives of three other people.

Mr. Rahal worked for the Al-Akhbar newspaper published in Beirut, the Lebanese capital. His colleague Ali Shoaib was wounded in the deadly skirmish between Lebanese and Israeli forces on Tuesday across the so-called Blue Line separating the two countries.

“I am deeply concerned about the circumstances in which Assaf Abu Rahal was killed and his colleague Ali Shoaib injured,” Irina Bokova, Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), said in a statement.

“I call on all parties involved to make every effort to shed light on the causes of this tragic incident, and to make sure it does not happen again by showing more restraint.

“I would further underline that freedom of expression, a fundamental human right, implies the possibility of exercising this right in safety. Armed forces are obligated to respect it,” she added.

According to the non-governmental organization Reporters Without Borders, the two journalists were at a Lebanese army roadblock during Tuesday’s incident.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 2nd, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Under the Patronage of the President of the Republic of Austria – Dr. Heinz Fischer.

With a Honorary Committe that includes Patricia Kahane – President of the Karl Kahane Foundation,  Dr. Michael Hauple – Mayor of Vienna, as well as Former Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister  – Dr. Alois Mock, and famous Austrian artists – Andre Heller and Joseph Hader. Also among others, Rabbi Marc Schneier from the US, Rafi Elul from Israel, Ibrahim Issa from Palestine.

The Conference will deal with Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and the toning down of media that inflames hatred.

The Conference will avoid  touching upon Middle East Conflict Issues in an effort at reaching first mutual understanding before tackling issues on which there can be built an agreement to disagree – and seeing that there are other points of view.

 www.mjconference.org/

THE MUSLIM JEWISH CONFERENCE – VIENNA – AUGUST 1-6, 2010.

«Our first step together creating the power to forge a link between possibility and reality.
Because the pronunciation of our names is no barrier for friendships.»

The first ‘Muslim Jewish Conference’ 2010 is being held in Vienna from the 1st until
the 6th of August. 60 students from all over the world with a common goal of
establishing peaceful relations between both religions will participate. The conference
consists of discussion committees, guest speakers, open dialogue panels and social
events.

The idea for this project was born in Vienna by two Austrian students, Ilja Sichrovsky
and Matthias Gattermeier, due to their experiences at international student
conferences and driven by the desire to create cultural awareness between young
aspiring Jewish and Muslim academics.

Today, the ‘MJC’-committee harbours over 20 volunteers from Asia, the Middle East, Europe and America, including countries like Austria, Israel, Lebanon, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, Turkey and the U S. The Assistant Secretary General in charge of the core of 15  volunteers is Ehab Bilal who grew up in Austria, studied in the UK, and is a Muslim of Libyan parentage.

Ilja Sichrovsky, founder and Secretary General of the MJC: “Representing the
University of Vienna at numerous international student conferences, I have
witnessed inevitable misunderstanding and prejudices between young Muslims and
Jews at first hand. The ‘Muslim Jewish Conference’ was called to life, to be the first
step together for young people creating the power to forge a link between possibility
and reality. Because the pronunciation of our names is no barrier for friendships.”

The ‘Muslim Jewish Conference’ is officially endorsed by the ‘United Nations Alliance of Civilisations’ (UNAOC) and the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The project is partly financed by the ‘Karl Kahane Foundation’ as well as by private donors.

Our vision is to make the MJC an annual conference, set up in different countries
each year and to provide a platform for real change in the interaction between
Muslim and Jewish Communities.

The participants represent a new generation of thinkers and upcoming opinion leaders who are connected by their joint believe in a new era of cooperation.

————————————————————————————–
Date: 1. – 6.08.2010
Place: Institute for International Development – University of Vienna
c/o Institute for African Sciences – Campus – AAKH, Hof 5.1
A-1090 Wien
URL: www.mjconference.org

———————————————————————————–

The Organisation Committee:

  • Ilja Sichrovsky – Secretary General
  • Ehab Bilal – Assist. Secretary General
  • Matthias Gattermeier – Logistics, Protocol & Security
  • Fatima Hasanain – Committees & Content
  • Asad Farooq – Organization & Registration
  • Florence Rivero – Organization & Design
  • Yvonne Feiger – Logistics & Fundraising
  • Mustafa Jalil Qureshi – Head of chairs
  • Daniel Gallner – Finance
  • Abdul Niazi – Ambassador for the MJC
  • Stefanie Andruchowitz – Head of Department Support
  • Valerie Prassl – Head Public Relations
  • Akshay Ganju – Chair
  • Eyal Raviv – Chair
  • Magdalena Kloss – Chair

————————————————————————————

When we researched the internet, we found that The Muttahidda Jihad Council (MJC), an alliance of Muslim Kashmiri freedom fighters as they call themselves, or terrorists, as we call them, is what the web knew as MJC before the start of this new Austrian effort. Things get even worse as there are other Abdul Niazi on the web. Whatever, we hope that the Austrian effort grows to become a success and we remember the role Chancellor Kreisky had in starting Israeli-Palestinian negotiations years ago.

Further, Karl Kahane and Bruno Kreisky , with other Kreisky friends, created in 1991 through the Karl Kahane Foundation also the Bruno Kreisky Forum in order to continue the Kreisky’s work on Human Rights, the Middle Eastern Peace Process,  Europe after the Cold War, and other issues close to him – we assume that the powerful ongoing Kreisky Forum had something to do with the organization of this new effort at tackling the Middle East peace process issue from a longer term understanding base.

The involvement of Rabbi Marc Schneier from the US is proof that his three year old  ongoing effort, on which our website reported several times,  of  bringing Jewish and Muslim communities in the US to a closer contact with meetings in homes as well as within religious centers, intended to listen to each others deep concerns rather then professing to shout at each other their frustrations, is part of the concept of the new effort.

 www.karlkahanefoundation.org/inde…

Also, New Generations – Crossing Borders.
In 1994 the Middle East Youth Peace Forum together with the Bruno Kreisky Forum for International Dialogue started the project New Generations – Crossing Borders. A group of young Palestinians, Israelis, Jordanians and Austrians met regularly over a period of four years in order to establish personal relations, overcome stereotypes, gain skills in conflict resolution and acquire leadership qualities.

The experiences of the participants were documented in the German/English publication Crossing Borders by Margit Schmidt et al, published by Picus Verlag, Vienna, 1999.

This comes to show that the young may eventually achieve what the older generation was not able to achieve.

??www.karlkahanefoundation.org/index.php?36

———————————————————————————-

Jüdisch-muslimisches Treffen.

Von Alexia Weiss –  www.WienerZeitung.at

Aufzählung Muslim Jewish Conference von 1. bis 6. August in Wien.

Wien. 60 muslimische und jüdische Studierende aus aller Welt treffen von 1. bis 6. August in der Uni Wien bei der “Muslim Jewish Conference” (MJC) zusammen. Das Ziel: eine gemeinsame Sprache zu finden und Vorurteile zu überwinden, sagt MJC-Generalsekretär Ilja Sichrovsky. Der 27-Jährige studiert in Wien “Internationale Entwicklung”.

Sichrovsky hat mehrmals an der “World Model United Nations Conference” teilgenommen, bei der eine Uni-Delegation ein Land verkörpert. Dabei ist der Wiener Jude mit muslimischen Studenten in Kontakt gekommen und musste feststellen, dass die Vorurteile auf beiden Seiten groß sind, man aber vieles im intensiven Gespräch ausräumen kann. “Ich habe gemerkt: Wir sind gar nicht so verschieden, wie es uns Medien und auch unsere Eltern zu vermitteln versucht haben.” So kam ihm 2008 erstmals die Idee für die Konferenz.

Gemeinsames Papier

Organisator ist Ehab Bilal (25). Der bekennende, aber nicht streng praktizierende Moslem kommt aus einer libyschen Familie, wuchs in Wien auf und studierte in England. Seit 9/11 hat er das Gefühl, “dass ich schon ein bisschen unterdrückt werde wegen meiner Religion”. Wenn er reise, werde er drei Mal gefragt, mit welchem Ziel er komme. Ihn ärgert, dass wegen einiger Extremisten die gesamte Religion in Verruf kommt.

Zu drei Themen werden die Studenten im August eine gemeinsame Deklaration veröffentlichen:

“Antisemitismus und Islamophobie” – Sichrovsky betont, dass es sich um eine Aufzählung, nicht um eine Gleichstellung beider Begriffe handelt – sowie die Rolle der Bildung und der Medien im Abbau von gegenseitigen Stereotypen.

Der Nahostkonflikt wird beim ersten Mal bewusst ausgeklammert. Man müsse zuerst eine gemeinsame Sprache finden, bevor man ein Thema angehe, “wo man weiß, dass man anderer Meinung ist”, so Sichrovsky.

Die Konferenz wird großteils von der Karl Kahane Foundation finanziert, Bundespräsident Heinz Fischer übernahm den Ehrenschutz. 120 Studenten hatten sich beworben, die besten wurden ausgewählt. Ihr Spektrum reicht von sehr religiös bis säkular.

www.mjconference.org

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 30th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/lebanon/7916925/Lebanon-facing-crisis-if-Hizbollah-charged-over-political-murder.html

Lebanon facing crisis if Hizbollah charged over political murder. Lebanon could be pitched into crisis if a tribunal set up to investigate the murder of the former prime minister, Rafik Harari, recommends charging Hizbollah members.

by Damien McElroy, Foreign Affairs Correspondent
Published: 8:29PM BST 29 Jul 2010

Rafik Hariri

Rafik Harari, pictured,  Photo: AP
A bomb blast in Beirut targeting Prime Minister Rafik Hariri

Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was killed in a massive blast on Beirut’s Corniche in 2005. Photo: AP

Indications that the international tribunal investigating the massive car bomb that killed the veteran Lebanese leader would indict Hizbollah operatives has drawn a furious reaction from the leadership of the Iranian-backed terrorist group.

Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hizbollah, raised the threat of withdrawal from the national unity government as it fought the tribunal, which he condemned as an “Israeli project”.

Hizbollah has a large following among the country’s Shia Muslims and any moves to resist the government could create significant instability in Lebanon.

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia held talks in the Syrian capital on Thursday with Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president. The two men will travel to Beirut for a summit with President Michel Suleiman and Mr Hariri’s son Saad, Lebanon’s prime minister.

Leaks from the investigation have said mobile phone records prove that prominent Hizbollah activists tracked Mr Hariri before detonating the massive bomb that killed the billionaire businessman on the city’s Corniche in 2005.

The Saudi king was a close ally of Mr Hariri and is believed to want Syria to use its close ties to Hizbollah, to persuade the group to pull back from the brink. Mr Hariri’s followers said outside invention was necessary to avoid deadlock.

“The visit of King Abdullah and President Assad, who are coming together on Friday, will be an answer for all the questions about stability in Lebanon,” Nohad al-Machnouk, an MP said.

Syria was forced to withdraw from Lebanon in the aftermath of the attack, which its agents were believed to have ordered and assisted, and the visit will be Mr Assad’s first since relations were restored.

Fatima Issawi, spokeswoman for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, said its UN mandate required the government of Lebanon to arrest and turn over any indicted suspects for trial. There is no confirmation that investigators had plans to charge the militant group. She said: “It would be quite unhelpful to add to the existing speculations. The Office of the Prosecutor will issue an indictment when it is ready.”

But Mr Nasarallah has said “not even a half” of a Hizbollah member was involved.

A breakdown of the Lebanese government would compound fears over the country’s deteriorating security, which has been buffeted by warnings that Israel may yet be forced into another offensive against Hizbollah missile and rocket positions.

Lebanon had to reinforce army deployments on its southern border region this month after local Hizbollah loyalists attacked UN peace keepers in a series of clashes.

Hizbollah is believed to have rearmed since the 2006 war with Israel despite international assurances that it would not be able to restock missiles and rockets within range of its southern neighbour.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 21st, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

THE CARNEGIE COUNCIL INSIDER.

that brings you information from www.Carnegie Council.org

Reset: Iran, Turkey, and America’s Future

Stephen Kinzer, Joanne J. Myers

Stephen Kinzer argues that the United States needs to rethink its alliances in the Middle East and focus on strategic relationships with Iran and Turkey rather than Israel and Saudi Arabia.

PLEASE NOTE – THE AUTHOR’S NAME WAS ALSO REPORTED AS STEVE KINZER – THAT IS THE WAY WE USED IT EARLIER.
THE ISSUES HE RAISES ARE WELL COVERED BY US ON OUR FRONT PAGE TURKEY BUTTON.

We reported on his book earlier at:

“We live now at a time of RESET in the Positioning of Turkey in the Middle East with a potential Reset also in American policy towards the Middle East. The latest debacle that involved Turkey, planned or not, has the potential that a new leader in the region has come on board. The new energy has to be encouraged to do good in the future.”

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 11th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz ( PJ at SustainabiliTank.com)

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 12th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Israel says it will intercept Libyan ship to Gaza; the UN throws up hands when faced with attacks by villagers in Southern Lebanon after the UN clearly did not live up to the mandate to demilitarize the border zone.

Are we staring at the start of the third Lebanon war? How do you count those wars?  Where was the starting line? When does such a war have self justification rather then being a distraction from other matters?

Is there a split between some Shiites of Lebanon and the leaders of Iran? How more complicated can it get? Beware those who contemplate stepping into the MESS.

MESS Report / Hezbollah has regained control over southern Lebanon.

Four years after the Second Lebanon War, the Shi’ite group has managed to rebuild its military capabilities across from Israel’s northern frontier. Still, most sources say it’s not interested in another round of fighting.

By Avi Issacharoff, Haaretz, July 12, 2010.

Four years after the Second Lebanon War, Hezbollah can credit itself with yet another achievement in its campaign against Israel: southern Lebanon is once again in its hands. According to various assessments, the Shi’ite organization has rebuilt its military capabilities north of the Litani River, where it has established a network of missile launchers any army in the world would be proud to possess. Furthermore, it has repaired the infrastructure of the Shi’ite villages south of the Litani that were severely hit in the war.

Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah Lebanese Shi’ite women marching in Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah’s
Photo by: AP

The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, which was deployed to southern Lebanon in 2006 in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1701 – passed at the end of the war – was supposed to prevent such activity. In recent months, however, UNIFIL has been harassed by Shi’ite villagers in the southern part of the country who are apparently acting on Hezbollah’s orders. The international peacekeeping force, particularly its French battalion, has been repeatedly humiliated by the local population. Villagers have hurled stones and eggs at them, and have even seized soldiers’ weapons. UNIFIL’sAsarta Cuevas, this week asked the Lebanese government to protect his troops. commander, Maj. Gen. Alberto

The confrontation Hezbollah initiated with the French contingent has renewed the internal debate in Lebanon – between the Shi’ite organization and the Al-Mustaqbal camp headed by Lebanese Prime Minister Said Hariri (and thought to be under French patronage ). While Hezbollah hinted that UNIFIL’s French battalion is serving “foreign” (namely, Israeli ) interests, Hariri flew to Paris to conciliate President Nicolas Sarkozy and clarify that Lebanon is interested in keeping French troops on its soil.

‘Not a knockout blow.’

Thus, one of Israel’s chief accomplishments in the Second Lebanon War – distancing Hezbollah from its northern frontier – is slowly vanishing. The Shi’ite organization, which was dealt a severe blow in the summer of 2006, has recovered at an impressive rate in the military, civilian and political spheres.

“It was not a knockout blow, but it was sufficiently painful to force Hezbollah to grow up,” says Prof. Eyal Zisser, an expert on Syria and Lebanon, the director of Tel Aviv University’s Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, and the university’s dean of humanities.

“Since the war, the organization has been presenting a more controlled, a more restrained, stance,” he says. “It’s the kind of experience that makes you or breaks you. On the other hand, its scars from the war will lead it to think many times over before it tries to face off with Israel again.”

In the last Lebanese parliamentary elections, in 2009, Hezbollah’s political standing changed very little. Initially its leaders admitted defeat, but the organization actually lost only one seat when compared to the previous elections, while its Christian partner in the anti-West camp, former army chief Michel Aoun, increased his political strength and clarified that Lebanon’s Maronites support Hezbollah.

Nevertheless, the group is limited by Lebanon’s electoral system as the Shi’ites in that country are allocated a maximum of 27 parliamentary seats. Perhaps this explains why Hezbollah is steadily tightening its military foothold in Lebanon. The Lebanese army, which receives American assistance, avoids clashing with Hezbollah, which is also interested in maintaining “industrial peace” with the army.

For the moment, at least – despite the unprecedented rate at which it is arming itself – Hezbollah apparently is not looking for another round of fighting with Israel, preferring instead to focus on a gradual takeover of Lebanon. Still, it should be recalled that in early July 2006, a few days before the war broke out, the assessment in Lebanon was that Hezbollah was not interested in a confrontation with Israel.

The death of Grand Ayatollah Fadlallah

Last Sunday, Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah died in Beirut at the age of 75. One of the most important Shi’ite religious figures in the Muslim world, Fadlallah was regarded as one of Hezbollah’s founders and as its spiritual leader in the 1980s. He was also one of the most fascinating Shi’ite religious leaders in the modern world. Although his religious rulings were a model for emulation for hundreds of thousands of followers, they also led to clashes with the Shi’ite religious institutions in Iran.

Born in 1935 in Najaf, Iraq, his father was a native of Lebanon. Fadlallah wrote poetry until the age of 12, when he began attending one of the city’s Shi’ite madrassas (religious schools ). In 1966 he moved to Lebanon, where he engaged in religious studies as well as social welfare work among the Shi’ite community.

Displaying a marked interest in the status of women in Muslim society, Fadlallah argued that lack of equality between husband and wife ran counter to the Koran. In addition, he held relatively progressive views on abortions, maintaining that the procedure could be performed at any stage in the pregnancy if the fetus was endangering the mother’s health.

On the topic of men doing household chores, Fadlallah wrote that the “social culture of ignorance, not Islam, is the source of the argument that a man humiliates himself if he does household chores.” He even explained that Ali, regarded by Shi’ite Muslims as the first imam, used to help his wife Fatima (the prophet Mohammed’s daughter ) with housework and that, when the prophet asked her to bake bread, Ali himself would clean the house and gather firewood.

Fadlallah also encouraged women to study Islamic religious law, to provide commentary on religious texts and to discuss such matters even with men.

While Fadlallah expressed total support for the Islamic revolution in Iran in 1979, he challenged the authority of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and his entourage, and repeatedly warned the members of the Islamic movement to beware of charismatic leaders (specifically mentioning Khomeini in that context ) whose personalities overshadow the message they are supposed to be conveying to their public. In 1982, he began setting up a network of social service agencies in Lebanon, as an emissary of his spiritual mentor and role model, Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Abul-Qassim al-Khoei, whom he regarded as the Marja al-Taqlid (a religious authority to be followed and emulated ) – despite the fact that Hezbollah and Iran considered Khomeini to be the Marja al-Taqlid.

Face-off with Iran and Hezbollah

Following Khomeini’s death in 1989, the question of who would inherit the mantle of the Marja al-Taqlid in the Shi’ite world took on ever-increasing urgency. Fadlallah regarded Grand Ayatollah al-Khoei as his Marja al-Taqlid, as did many other people in the Shi’ite world. With al-Khoei’s death in 1993, Grand Ayatollah Golpayegani of Iran became Fadlallah’s Marja al-Taqlid. It was after Golpayegani died that the crisis between Fadlallah, Hezbollah and Iran really began to play out more openly.

Tehran proclaimed Ayatollah Sheikh Mohsen Araki, who was over 100 years old at the time, as the Shi’ite Marja al-Taqlid – a move intended to pave the way for the ascension of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (following Araki’s death ). Fadlallah, however, announced his own support for Ayatollah Sistani, who at the time resided in Najaf.

At that point, Hezbollah declared its backing for Tehran’s position and announced that its members must support Araki and must not regard anyone else as the Marja al-Taqlid. Araki died in December 1994; three months later, Iran declared Khamenei’s appointment to that senior post.

Fadlallah argued that Iran was simply trying to bolster its own political-religious position among the Muslim Shi’ites; he continued to support Sistani, and as a result was severely criticized by other Shi’ite religious leaders. His mosque was banned and, on one occasion, shots were fired at his car.

Although he later reconciled with Hezbollah leaders, Fadlallah still kept his distance from them. Refusing to recognize Iran’s leadership in the Shi’ite world, he maintained his religious autonomy and chose his own unique political path.

—————————————

  • Published July 7, 2010, HAARETZ

‘Obama warns Erdogan international Gaza flotilla probe bad for Turkey’

Following the Israeli Navy commandos’ raid in May in which nine Turkish activists were killed Turkey has demanded international probe.

United States President Barak Obama warned Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan that an international probe into Israel’s deadly raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla could have negative consequences for Turkey, British Arabic-language daily al-Hayat reported Saturday.

Turkish PM Erdogan and U.S. President Obama Turkish PM Erdogan and U.S. President Obama at the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington on April 12, 2010
Photo by: AP

According to the report, Obama warned Erdogan that the international probe which Turkey has demanded could turn into a “double edged sword,” as it could lead to accusations against the passengers on board the Turkish-flagged Mavi Marmara ship, some of whom were members of the pro-Palestinian IHH organization.

The two leaders met in Canada on the sidelines of the G-20 summit earlier this week.

Following the Israeli Navy commandos’ raid in May in which nine Turkish activists were killed Turkey announced that it was recalling its ambassador to Israel.

Erdogan said the incident represented a complete violation of international law and called for an international probe into the military action.

Last month Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said that his government would insist on an international commission to investigate the raid saying that “If an international commission is not set up and Turkey’s rightful demands are ignored, Turkey has the right to review its relations with Israel.”

The foreign minister was responding to Israel’s announcement Monday that it was setting up its own inquiry, which will include two international observers.

The May 31 Israeli raid on the flotilla, led by a Turkish NGO, took place outside of Israel’s territorial waters.

“A commission which will conduct an inquiry into an attack staged in international waters should be international. We demand that an international commission should be formed under the supervision of the UN with participation of Turkey and Israel. We will insist on this matter,” Davutoglu said.

“We believe that Israel, as a country which attacked on a civil convoy in international waters, will not conduct an impartial inquiry,” he added.

The Israeli raid has led to a severe strain in the once-close ties between Turkey and Israel.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 9th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Brian Stelter knows something about TWITTER – he is running his own, but he also had a Thursday article in the New York Times in which he analyzed the transgressions of another Journalist – a CNN senior editor – that went beyond what is allowed in journalism and ended up being fired by CNN. Her obvious transgression was on Twitter.

Brian Stelter (brianstelter) on Twitter

– 2:04pm Get short, timely messages from Brian Stelter. Twitter is a rich source of instantly updated information. It’s easy to stay updated on an incredibly wide
twitter.com/brianstelter

His article on-line was

CNN Fires Middle East Affairs Editor.

By BRIAN STELTER, Published: July 7, 2010

The title as in NYT print July 8, 2010 was: “A TWITTER POST THAT ENDED A 2-YEAR CAREER AT CNN.”

CNN on Wednesday removed its senior editor of Middle Eastern affairs, Octavia Nasr, after she published a Twitter message saying that she respected the Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah.

Octavia Nasr

Parisa Khosravi, the senior vice president of international newsgathering for CNN Worldwide, said in an internal memorandum that she “had a conversation” with Ms. Nasr on Wednesday morning and that “we have decided that she will be leaving the company.”

For her coverage of events like last year’s protests in Iran, CNN had previously called Ms. Nasr a “leader” in integrating social media Web sites like Twitter within its newsgathering process.

Ms. Nasr, a 20-year veteran of the network, wrote on Twitter after the cleric died on Sunday, “Sad to hear of the passing of Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah … One of Hezbollah’s giants I respect a lot.”
The ayatollah routinely denounced the United States and supported suicide bombings against Israel.

Some supporters of Israel seized on the Twitter message as an indication of bias. A CNN spokesman said Tuesday that Ms. Nasr had made an “error of judgment” that “did not meet CNN’s editorial standards.”

In an explanatory blog post on CNN.com Tuesday evening, Ms. Nasr said she was sorry about the message “because it conveyed that I supported Fadlallah’s life’s work. That’s not the case at all.”

She said she used the words “respect” and “sad” because “to me as a Middle Eastern woman, Fadlallah took a contrarian and pioneering stand among Shia clerics on woman’s rights. She continued, “This does not mean I respected him for what else he did or said. Far from it.”

Despite her senior editor title, Ms. Nasr did not run CNN’s Middle East coverage, a spokesman said. She reported and provided analysis about the region for CNN’s networks.

Her explanation of the Twitter message was apparently not enough for her CNN bosses. Ms. Khosravi wrote in the memo, “at this point, we believe that her credibility in her position as senior editor for Middle Eastern affairs has been compromised going forward.”

——————-

The problem with this is not Ms. Nasr – she would be clearly entitled to say what she wants to her tweeter – that is guaranteed by the First Amendment, but CNN has more at stake here. It is the credibility of CNN that she undermined and provided clear proof to the Israelis that when CNN covered the Lebanon war it might not have been impartial. With people like Octavia Nasr, partisans to a cause, the credibility of the media is being destroyed.

We post this because we think CNN is the best there is on US TV. We watch religiously the Fareed Zakaria weekly program – the only consistently intelligent program we know on US TV – so we do not want to see CNN downgraded to the level of a FOX. Granted, Ms. Nasr was not a columnist anchor of the network, but she was in charge of media gathering – and if the news are faked by partisanship – the whole system is “kaput.”

——————-

FRIDAY, JULY 09, 2010
CNN’s Objectivity Questioned in Sacking of Mideast Reporter.
Eli Clifton

WASHINGTON, Jul 8 (IPS) – CNN’s firing of Octavia Nasr, the editor responsible for the network’s Middle East coverage, over a Twitter post in which she expressed her sadness over the death of a Lebanese cleric has set off a firestorm of debate about what the decision says about CNN’s fairness in reporting on the region. On Sunday, Nasr wrote, “Sad to hear of the passing of Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah… One of Hezbollah’s giants I respect a lot,” on her Twitter account, which is followed by over 7,000 readers.

Fadlallah was an inspirational figure for Lebanese Shiites and an early supporter of Hezbollah. Fadlallah, who initially supported the use of suicide bombings as a means of resistance against the occupation of Lebanon and Palestine, later criticised Hezbollah for its close ties to Iran, as well as Ayatollah Khomeini’s velayet- e faqih “rule of the clerics”, which Khomeini imposed in Iran in 1979.

Critics of Fadlallah have charged that he was staunchly anti-U.S., and had been linked to bombings that killed more than 260 U.S. citizens, but others have pointed to the cleric’s support for women’s rights and fatwas against female circumcision and honour killings as evidence of his comparatively progressive position. After the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and a number of right-wing news outlets and blogs took issue with her expression of regret over Fadlallah’s death, on Tuesday, Nasr wrote another Twitter post in which she attempted to clarify her earlier comment and emphasised her admiration of Fadlallah’s defence of women’s rights.


“Fadlallah, designated by the U.S. Department of Treasury as a specially designated terrorist, disseminated numerous fatawa’ supporting terrorist operations and was a vocal supporter of terrorism against Israeli targets,” read a statement from the ADL on Tuesday.

“It is clearly an impropriety for a CNN journalist/editor to express such a partisan viewpoint as Ms. Nasr did in her tweet,” the statement continued.

“How did CNN senior editor of Middle East affairs Octavia Nasr celebrate July 4? By mourning the passing of Hezbollah’s Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah,” blogged Daniel Halper at the neoconservative Weekly Standard.

But other journalists and watchdog groups expressed concern over the speed with which CNN fired Nasr and the emergence of a double-standard when reporting on Middle Eastern affairs.

“The network – which has employed a former AIPAC official, Wolf Blitzer, as its primary news anchor for the last 15 years – justified its actions by claiming that Nasr’s ‘credibility’ had been ‘compromised,'” wrote Salon’s Glenn Greenwald in an article in which he went on to argue that Nasr was fired for offending the “neocon Right” by expressing regret over the death of a “profoundly complex figure, with some legitimate grievances, some entrenched hatreds and ugly viewpoints, and a substantial capacity for good.”

Peter Hart, activism director at Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), a media watchdog group, told IPS that, “If there was some suggestion that she had been producing questionable journalism over all these years you’d think this would have been an issue before this, but it doesn’t seem to be the case. So it’s a decision which is disconnected from any sensible policy. The real problem is that she said something which offended very powerful people and that was her mistake.”

Nasr had worked for the Atlanta-based CNN for 20 years and rarely appeared on-air except for occasional appearances as an analyst in discussions on Middle East news. She had no history of an anti-Israel or pro-Palestinian bias and, according to Greenwald, “blended perfectly into the American corporate media woodwork”.

“Octavia Nasr got fired for the one smart thing she ever said,” quipped journalist Nir Rosen, a fellow at the New York University Center on Law and Security, in a Twitter post.

“[P]lenty of American journalists and politicians have shown ‘respect’ (and in some cases, fawning admiration) for various world figures with hands far bloodier than Ayatollah Fadlallah – including Mao Zedong, Ariel Sharon, the Shah of Iran, or even Kim il Sung – but it didn’t cost them their jobs,” wrote Stephen Walt, a professor of international relations at Harvard University.

Questions have been raised over why Nasr, known as an uncontroversial reporter of Middle East affairs, was fired so quickly for an off-the-cuff Twitter post.

According to some observers, her unwillingness to conform to the narrative depicted by a number of right-wing news outlets and U.S. Jewish groups that Fadlallah was a terrorist, anti-US and anti-Semitic resulted in CNN receiving pressure to fire her.

“Nasr’s comment was enough to spark fierce outrage from the various precincts of the neocon blog/twittersphere, who went after Nasr for her egregious failure to reduce Fadlallah to an anti-Israel, anti-American terrorist bogeyman,” blogged Matt Duss, a National Security Researcher at the liberal Center For American Progress.

While right-wing news outlets, such as the Weekly Standard and the conservative WorldNetDaily gleefully reported on Nasr’s departure from CNN, others expressed concern for the double standard which has emerged when discussing Middle East affairs in the US mainstream media.

“The standard here is based on nothing that Nasr reported for CNN. [Her Twitter post] was barely a one sentence expression of sympathy. Firing her was a decision that was completely disconnected from her work so it’s a decision that’s very troubling. Lou Dobbs’s thoughts about immigrants were on CNN every night and CNN stood by him as the criticism mounted and the factual inaccuracies piled up,” said Hart.

“In this case, a stray comment is enough to terminate someone’s role at CNN almost overnight,” he said. “The discrepancy is rather revealing and CNN would have a very hard time revealing precisely what their policy is on this. It’s hard to find precedent for this. She has a history of covering the region and that is not easily replaced.”

———————-

We do not approve of the Lou Dobbs diatribe on CNN on US immigration, and we think he should have been chastised by the network, but this is the only point the above article makes that we can agree with.

Otherwise, the article is in itself proof of how split and detrimental to the surfacing of the truth on matters of the Middle East the whole public policy arena is for years. There are plenty of Jewish groups that think Wolf Blitzer is biased against the Israeli government. We have met the man at the time he worked at the UN and are convinced he is a true journalist. Most others mentioned belong either to the left or to the right and as we know well both sides have other goals then a two State solution for the Middle East morass. Our website neither accepts the demise of Israel, nor the lack of a Palestinian State, so we clearly can say that someone who believes that Allah calls for suicide bombers to achieve his goal of eradicating Israel, is no better then Ahmedi-Nejad – the true follower of Hitler.

Yes, Ms. Nasr had to go not because ADL wanted her to go. It is because CNN needed her to go- and yes, CNN might look also at who else has to go in order to build back its own credibility.

————————

The continuing problem Ayatollah with Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah’s followers is in today’s news – so a credible press coverage is imperative – niceties and partisanship aside – just see in

UN DAILY NEWS DIGEST – 9 July, 2010:

LEBANON: SECURITY COUNCIL CALLS FOR FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT OF UN PEACEKEEPERS .

Strongly deploring recent incidents directed at United Nations blue helmets in Lebanon, the Security Council today called for ensuring the safety and freedom of movement of the peacekeepers serving there.

Members of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) have recently been the target of protests and attacks by villagers in the south of the country in response to routine military exercises carried out by the mission.

“The members of the Security Council strongly deplore the recent incidents involving UNIFIL peacekeepers which took place in southern Lebanon on June 29th, July 3rd and July 4th in the UNIFIL area of operation,” Ambassador U. Joy Ogwu of Nigeria, which holds the Council’s rotating presidency for July, said in a statement read out to the press following closed-door talks.

They also emphasized the importance of not impairing UNIFIL’s ability to fulfil its mandate under Security Council resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 war between Israel and Hizbollah.

The resolution also calls for respect of the so-called Blue Line separating the Israeli and Lebanese sides, the disarming of all militias operating in Lebanon and an end to arms smuggling in the area.

“They call on all parties to ensure that the freedom of movement of UNIFIL remains respected in conformity with its mandate and its rules of engagement,” the statement added.

In addition to monitoring the 2006 ceasefire between Israel and Hizbollah, UNIFIL is also tasked with accompanying and supporting the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) as they deploy throughout the south, and extending its assistance to help ensure humanitarian access to civilian populations and the voluntary and safe return of displaced persons.

Also today, Michael Williams, the UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon, discussed the recent incidents involving UNIFIL with Lebanese Foreign Minister Ali Shami.

“We all hope that the situation has now calmed down and that there will be no recurrence of such incidents,” he in a statement following the meeting in Beirut.

Mr. Williams asserted that UNIFIL’s freedom of movement is a critical element for it to discharge its mandate and it must be fully respected.

“I think that we all agree that the excellent cooperation between UNIFIL and LAF has been the backbone of the stability that has prevailed in the south, and we must do all we can to maintain and to enhance it,” he added.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 9th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

At UN, N. Korea Ambassador Declares Victory, Came Late to Dark Press Area.
By Matthew Russell Lee, Inner City Press.
UNITED NATIONS, July 9 — North Korea’s Ambassador Sin Son Ho came late to the UN press area, 20 minutes after Susan Rice of the U.S. and her Japanese and South Korean counterparts had spoken and left.
He sat with Inner City Press, asking where the other reporters were. They had left, but following tweets from InnerCityPress and others, some returned. But there was no UNTV crew, and therefore no sound.

Sin Son Ho sat in the penned in press area, sweating. Inner City Press offered him a fan, one handed out in June at a largely Japanese march from Times Square to the UN. “NO! Nuclear Weapons” were the words on fan. Sin Son Ho declined.
Inner City Press asked him if he has seen the photo exhibit in the UN’s entrance about the De-Militarized Zone. He nodded. “My country very beautiful,” he said. “Very beautiful.”

Why did he come so late to the stakeout, after Ambassadors Rice, Takasu and Park had already spoken. He didn’t want to mixed with them, was the answer.

Other reporters began to arrive. Some wondered how the UN Secretariat could be treating North Korea and its Ambassador this way. The emphasis, however, was on getting him to speak and take questions before he left. Inner City Press plugged the lights in. The microphone stand was tilted.

Finally the UNTV crew arrived, and Sin Son Ho began. He denounced the Security Council, which he said “failed to bring the correct judgment or conclusion to this case.” He said the Peninsula was now at a “trigger point” and could “explode at any moment.”

The first question was in Korean, but Sin Son Ho answered in English. This was, he said, a great diplomatic victory. Inner City Press began asking about his statement, in an earlier press conference, that he would lose his job if the Council took action.
A reporter shouted, “Will North Korea take military action?” Sin Son Ho replied, “Thank you for coming,” and walked away from the microphone.

A swarm of TV camera people, mostly from Japanese media, ran after him and up the stairs. A long time UN Security officer tried to stop the camera people, who surrounded Sin Son Ho as he passed through the turnstile. And then he was gone.

* * *

At UN, Korean Ship Attack But Not Attacker Condemned, Faster Action on Lebanese Rock Throwing.

By Matthew Russell Lee, Inner City Press.

UNITED NATIONS, July 8 — At the UN Security Council, it’s hurry up and wait. The sinking of the Cheonan ship was suddenly put on the agenda for consultations Thursday afternoon at 4:30. Some media reported that a statement condemning the sinking, and presumably North Korea, would be issued that same afternoon.

But Council sources told the Press that the meeting was only for the purpose of finally distributing the draft Presidential Statement to the other members of the Council, beyond the P-5 Plus Two. At least for appearance’s sake, the pretense of non P-5 agreement must be kept up. Therefore no statement will issue until Friday.

And when it does, it will not squarely blame North Korea-see below “the Security Council condemns the attack which led to the sinking”

Also slated for Friday is a “quick and dirty” press statement in support of France’s peacekeepers, heroically fighting rock throwers in South Lebanon. France has drafted what it wants, and thinks it will get agreement.

Even though UN staff were barricaded into their offices in Sri Lanka by a mob led by a government minister, and Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who was burned in effigy, belatedly blamed it on the government, the Security Council has not, and in all probability will not, take up the issue. Until a ship gets sunk. And yet then…. Watch this site.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 20th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

from OIC Newsletter 23 (2010) – June 9, 2010:

Message of the Turkish  Secretary General of OIC, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu (the Organisation of the Islamic Conference) on the occasion of the World Environment Day:

The World Environment Day is being observed today in the backdrop of growing realization about the dangers of environmental degradation and the climate change.

The OIC fora at its various meetings has unanimously pronounced about the need for cooperation and adoption of effective measures to protect environment which is essential for the sustainable development of its Member States. The OIC Ten-Year Program of Action – a Joint Action document for the Muslim Ummah to face on challenges of the 21st Century – called upon all the OIC Member States to coordinate their environmental policies and positions in international environmental fora so as to prevent any adverse effects of such policies on their economic development.

The climate change poses an existential threat for many OIC Member States. Securing a fair and equitable agreement on climate change within the framework of existing instruments, therefore, remains a priority for our countries. Notwithstanding the need for active and effective participation by the OIC countries in the international environmental fora, it is gratifying to note that the Islamic Executive Bureau for Environment and the Islamic Conference of Environment Ministers is fully seized of all developments in the matter. Our Organization is poised to launch various important initiatives for promotion of clean and renewable energy, clean development mechanism, natural disaster management and alike, under the Islamic Environment Action Program.

The Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) fully shares the concerns of the international community and is cooperating with UNEP and other relevant agencies in promoting sustainable development while maintaining the delicate balance of ecosystems and life. It is important that more resources are made available to reduce our vulnerabilities to the growing dangers of environmental degradation.

On this occasion, I urge the policy makers, the civil society and all stake holders to join hands in promoting better environmental practices for ensuring the well being of our future generations.

——————

Probe At U.N. Climate Talks After Saudi Sign Smashed.

Date: 21-Jun-10

Reported by Reuters from Germany that Germany’s U.N. climate negotiators agreed to an investigation on Friday after protesters smashed last week a sign emblazoned “Saudi Arabia” and dropped it in toilet after Riyadh blocked a study of deeper cuts in greenhouse gases. (we reported at the time mistakenly that it was a cut-up Saudi national flag that was dropped instead.)

Many countries obviously condemned the protest that originated from the fact that  Saudi Arabia blocked a request by small island states at the end of the May 31-June 11 talks for a study of tougher cuts in greenhouse gases to help slow a rise in world sea levels.

Now Mexico’s delegate Luis Alfonso de Alba, whose country will host the main climate talks in late 2010, said he was initiating the investigation by the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat.

Pieces of the smashed Saudi Arabia sign — about 30 cm and placed on a table to identify the delegation during negotiations — were dropped in a toilet and then photographed, delegates said. The pictures were then put up on some walls.

“This is a serious incident. We should fully support that the secretariat should carry out an investigation and the result should be informed to the parties,” Chinese delegate Su Wei said.

Lebanon’s delegate also said that the Saudi flag was abused during a protest in the conference hall after Saudi Arabia blocked the small island state’s push. (Does that mean that there were indeed two protests – one involving the flag as Lebanon says and the other one involving the sign as Mexico says?)

Saudi Arabia has often expressed worries at U.N. climate negotiations that a shift toward renewable energies will undermine its oil export earnings.

It opposed the small island state’s push for a study of limiting global warming, saying that wider issues such as the impact on exporters, also had to be taken into account.

To us it seems that the worry of the SIDS and AOSIS is  justified and the worry of income of the Saudis and the backing they get from other Islamic States, is something to be looked by the German investigators as well.


###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 13th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Probe at UN climate talks after Saudi sign smashed

Saturday, 12 June 2010 10:06
author:Reuters
POLITICS & ECONOMICS / NEWS
by Reuters, Saturday, 12 June 2010

SAUDI STANCE: Saudi angered many by blocking study of global  warming. (Getty Images)

SAUDI STANCE: Saudi angered many by blocking study of global warming. (Getty Images)

UN climate negotiators agreed to an investigation on Friday after protesters smashed a sign emblazoned “Saudi Arabia” and dropped it in toilet after Riyadh blocked a study of deeper cuts in greenhouse gases.

Many countries condemned the protest, after Saudi Arabia blocked a request by small island states at the May 31-June 11 talks for a study of tougher cuts in greenhouse gases to help slow a rise in world sea levels.


Mexico’s delegate Luis Alfonso de Alba, whose country will host the main climate talks in late 2010, said he was initiating an investigation by the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat.

Pieces of the smashed Saudi Arabia sign – about 30 cm and placed on a table to identify the delegation during negotiations – were dropped in a toilet and then photographed, delegates said. The pictures were then put up on some walls.

“This is a serious incident. We should fully support that the secretariat should carry out an investigation and the result should be informed to the parties,” Chinese delegate Su Wei said.

Lebanon’s delegate also said that the Saudi flag was abused during a protest in the conference hall after Saudi Arabia blocked the small island state’s push.

Saudi Arabia has often expressed worries at U.N. climate negotiations that a shift towards renewable energies will undermine its oil export earnings.

It opposed the small island state’s push for a study of limiting global warming, saying that wider issues such as the impact on exporters, also had to be taken into account.

———————————-

Sabotage to blame for World Cup fiasco – Al Jazeera.

by Andy Sambidge, ArabianBusiness.com, Friday, 11 June 2010

 www.arabianbusiness.com/590311-te…

 www.arabianbusiness.com/590345-al…

Al Jazeera Sport, which suffered major technical problems during its broadcast of the FIFA World Cup to Middle East viewers, has blamed “a deliberate act of sabotage”.

Its exclusive coverage of the South Africa versus Mexico match on Friday was hit by regular transmission problems with fan across the region unable to enjoy the spectacle.

“Al Jazeera Sport would like to condemn the actions of those involved in the deliberate attempts to block its signal during its World Cup broadcasts yesterday,” Al Jazeera Sport said in a statement published by media in Qatar on Saturday.

“Despite its considerable efforts to bring the best coverage to the most possible fans across the Middle East and North Africa including 18 free-to-air games from the group stages, Al Jazeera Sport viewers repeatedly lost their signal through the course of yesterday’s opening fixture,” the statement added.

“This loss of signal was completely beyond Al Jazeera Sport’s control and they share in the frustrations of all those whose enjoyment was spoiled by what was a deliberate act of sabotage.”


Football fans across the Middle East cried foul on Friday as the start of Al Jazeera’s broadcast of the FIFA World Cup was hit by blank screens. Fans across Dubai, including thousands watching at special events across the emirate, reported technical problems.

Hundreds of fans also complained about the problems on Twitter.

Technical problems hit the beginning of the coverage by the Qatar based TV station with its special World Cup channels frozen or broadcasting in the wrong language in a number of countries, including the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait and Egypt.

For most of the first half an hour of the first game between hosts South Africa and Mexico, viewers were left with no picture or a frozen screen.

The issues appeared to have been sorted out shortly before half time but problems persisted throughout the second half of the match.

Broadcasts on the English language channel morphed into French commentary from the start and then the channel went blank. The English commentary only appeared much later in the first half of the game.

The only coverage working throughout was the HD channel broadcasting in Arabic only.

Broadcasting rights across the region are owned by Al Jazeera Sport, and can currently be accessed either by purchasing an Al Jazeera Sports card or through Etisalat’s pay TV E-Vision.

————————

Al Jazeera has ‘FIFA backing’ to tackle World Cup woes

by Andy Sambidge, Saturday, 12 June 2010, ArabianBusiness.com

BACKUP PLAN: Al Jazeera Sport has implemented its contingency plan  to minimise future World Cup disruption which has been blamed on  saboteurs. (Getty Images)
BACKUP PLAN: Al Jazeera Sport has implemented its contingency plan to minimise future World Cup disruption which has been blamed on saboteurs. (Getty Images)

The general manager of Al Jazeera Sport said on Saturday that the company had implemented a “back up plan” to minimise future disruption to its FIFA World Cup coverage, adding that it had the full backing of FIFA to tackle the problem.

Nasser Al Khelaifi told Arabian Business in a telephone interview that the people responsible for “destroying our signal” would be found “very soon”.

However, later on Saturday, the broadcaster experienced further technical problems, notably during the Argentina v Nigeria match, as protests mounted up on social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook.

Al Khelaifi said that the TV station had the “full backing” of World Cup organisers FIFA to find the culprits he accused of deliberately jammed the Nilesat and Arabsat satellites.

In a statement, FIFA said: “FIFA is supporting Al Jazeera in trying to locate the source of the interference in the broadcast of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa. FIFA is appalled by any action to try to stop Al Jazeera’s authorised transmissions of the FIFA World Cup as such actions deprive football fans from enjoying the world game in the region. It is not acceptable to FIFA.”

Al Jazeera Sport suffered major technical problems during its broadcast of the opening World Cup match between South Africa versus Mexico on Friday.

Al Khelaifi said: “The people who were responsible did not steal the TV rights of Al Jazeera yesterday, they stole the viewers’ rights because this was a match that was being broadcast free to everyone. Of course we have been in contact with FIFA and they are supporting us to find them [the people responsible].”

He added that Al Jazeera was working with “a number of international specialised companies” to track down the culprits and that he was confident they would be found soon.

In a statement released earlier, the TV company said: “Al Jazeera Sport would like to condemn the actions of those involved in the deliberate attempts to block its signal during its World Cup broadcasts yesterday”, adding that it was a “deliberate act of sabotage”.

Al Khelaifi told Arabian Business that its contingency plan to minimise future disruption was now in operation but added that he could not say if future satellite attacks would happen during the football tournament.

“I think these people are sick,” he said, adding that everything was being done to ensure the best possible TV coverage for the rest of the tournament.

Technical problems hit the beginning of the coverage by the Qatar based TV station with its special World Cup channels frozen or broadcasting in the wrong language in a number of countries across the Middle East.

For most of the first half an hour of the first game between hosts South Africa and Mexico, viewers were left with no picture or a frozen screen.

The issues appeared to have been sorted out shortly before half time but problems persisted throughout the second half of the match.

The second match of the night – France v Uruguay – was unaffected.

Al Khelaifi could not put a figure on how many viewers were affected by the disruption on Friday but said that 85m people had tuned in for Al Jazeera’s coverage of the Champions League Final last month.

Broadcasting rights across the region are exclusively owned by Al Jazeera Sport

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 12th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)


Turkish Airforce bombs Kurdish PKK rebels recognized by the West as terrorists but obviously thought of as freedom fighters by others. Some ask why is this different from Israel having its own fight with Hamas? Where is here Turkey’s sense of justice? But why be naive – look at the goals of the actors in the Middle East and don’t forget internal-policy differences in the US as well.

Why does a factor that thought the US invasion of Iraq furthers world peace, ends up distancing from it now, as we see the disaster the US chase-for-oil caused, forget that it once backed relations with Iran when that idea was  Iraq’s Saddam was the major enemy – the role held now by Ahmedi-Nejad?

The Middle East is in flux, roles are exchanged, but at the bottom of it all lies what the leaders of the major local powers, and the few leaders left of global powers, see as their NATIONAL INTERESTS. In the end only that is what counts.

The following article is interesting as it provides an analysis of the Middle East from Tehran as focal point. We already said this before, Tehran is the Central power of the Middle East like Germany is the Central power of Europe. In each case without them there is no peace in their regions. The way Iran goes is also the way conflicts move. A growing influence of Iran does change things, but today it is not Iran but Turkey that is on the move, so in this respect the Belman analysis may not be really up to date.

Further, Mr. Belman is always inclined to take the Republican side in US internal politics so naturally he will put blame on the Obama White House for things that are not of Obama. Nevertheless, we are impressed that this time there is a distance from what the Bush Administration wrought on Iraq. They could have changed regime and left the Iraqis handle their own affairs, like the Israelis could have in 1967 helped the creation of a Palestinian State rather then sit on it and create eventual conflict, but as said we see merit in the Belman Analysis and we post it for our readers benefit.

Also, when talking about the Middle East never forget the OIL – and the word is not mentioned even once in the following analysis.

One last word about the pesky PKK. Had the governments of Turkey allowed for a modicum of autonomy for their Kurds, rather then fight them, Turkey could have inherited the Kurds of Iraq with all their resources and led to the dismemberment of Iraq. Sure, the US would not have liked that – but would it not have been better for Turkey? Today Iran is not interested in this either – they know that thanks to Cheney/Bush they will get all of Iraq.

======= ———— =======

from: TED BELMAN <tedbel1@israpundit.com>

date Sat, Jun 12, 2010 at 9:12 AM
subjec: IRANIAN AXIS IS GROWING

The shifting sands of the Middle East

By Ted Belman

Shimon Peres, President of Israel, has, for the last thirty years, called for a New Middle East.  In fact he wrote a book by that title in 1993, the year of the Oslo Accords. He believed that economic cooperation in the ME was the starting point for cementing ties and reconciling peoples.  The Oslo Accords, of which he was the main architect and instigator, was intended to lead in that direction.  It failed miserably.

In those days the main players on the Muslim side, were Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Egypt and Syria, all Sunni. And, of course, we cannot leave out Arafat, also a Sunni.

All this began to change with the invasion of Iraq by the US in 2003. Talk about unintended consequences. The defeat of Iraq, created a power vacuum which Shiite Iran was salivating to fill. Although Iraq under Hussein was in the Sunni camp, its population was 60% Shiite. Luckily, the Iraqi Shiites prefer independence from Iran perhaps due in part to the fact they are Arab and not Farsi; at least for now but that could change.

Iran had aspirations of grandeur and imperialist ambitions.  She began to plot a course which would lead to her dominance of the Muslim world and in the Middle East. No small task, since 80% of Muslims are Sunni and Mecca and Medina, the holiest sites in Islam, are located in Saudi Arabia.

This course had two prongs; the development of its own nuclear bomb and the confrontation with Israel, the Little Satan and the US the Big Satan on behalf of all Muslims everywhere.

Iran also had a natural advantage, her location. Egypt, with its population of 55 million is poor and on the periphery. It also made peace with Israel thereby taking her out of the race for now.  Iran borders on Iraq, Turkey, Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Caspian Sea.  The US needs Iran to be cooperative in each of these theaters.

Iran’s first success was to win over Syria the most rejectionist Sunni state. This was easier than you might expect as Syria is ruled the Alawites, a Shiite sect. Their alliance is constantly growing and seems to have no bounds.  This is so notwithstanding that the US has attempted to wean Syria away from Iran. Syria is important because it borders on Jordan, Lebanon and Israel, with whom she has a casus belli for the return of the Golan.

Syria also has imperialist ambitions. She has visions of recovering all lands which were part of the Ottoman province of Syria.  Britain and France entered into the Sykes-Picot Agreement during WWI in which they agreed that Britain would control Mesopotamia (Iraq) and southern Syria, (Jordan and Israel) and France would control the rest of Ottoman Syria (Syria, Lebanon and Hatay province of Turkey). The League of Nations formalized this agreement in 1923 when it created the British Mandate and the French Mandate.

In pursuance of these ambitions, in 1970, Syria invaded Jordan only to be repulsed by Israel.  During the recent decades, Syria extended its influence over Lebanon.  This was made easier with the growth of Hezbollah which was predominantly Shiite. It was natural for Syria and Iran to come together on this.  Together they have armed Hezbollah to the teeth in order to have a proxy for the war against Israel. In truth there is no casus belli  between Hezbollah and Israel.

Iran took Hamas under its wing after Hamas took over Gaza from the Sunni backed Palestinian Authority in 2007.  It was natural for this to happen since they both are dedicated to destroying Israel.

This is a development which has put Egypt in the cross hairs. Hamas is an outgrowth of the Muslim Brotherhood which was founded in Egypt in 1928. The Brotherhood has been a thorn in Egypt’s backside ever since. It believes that Muslim society is no longer Islamic and must be transformed by an Islamic vanguard through violent revolution. Thus, the Brotherhood and Iran are natural allies.

There is great concern that when Mubarak dies, Egypt will be vulnerable to a Brotherhood takeover. Hamas, with the backing of Iran, could greatly assist in this takeover.

Turkey was the last to join the Iranian axis. With the defeat of the Ottoman Empire, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk established the modern state of Turkey. He ruled as President until his death in 1938.  During this time he sought to transform Turkey into a modern and secular nation-state. The Turkish army maintained this orientation until the election of islamist Recep Tayyip Erdogan as Prime Minister in 2003.  This victory was made possible by the changing demographics of the country. The higher birth rates of the rural class in Turkey (and in Hezbollah in Lebanon) made possible the shift in power.

The US championed the admission of Turkey to NATO and to the EU. Turkey maintained a friendship with Israel to gain favor with the US and with the EU. She succeeded in being admitted to NATO but not to the EU. The EU was not in the mood to admit a Muslim state and set all kinds of preconditions. Erdogan decided to chart his own course rather than the one dictated by the EU. Turkey gave up on admission and turned increasing islamist and anti-Israel and, I might add, anti-American.

——————–

In Turkey’s MidEast Gambit, Sam Segev notes,

“Since his Justice and Development party (AKP) came to power in 2002, Erdogan has cautiously but consistently moved to reclaim Turkey’s “grandeur” of the Ottoman Empire era.

“This necessitated a slow but cautious distancing from Israel and the U.S. In 2003, it refused an American request to allow American troops to enter Iraq through Turkish territory. Then a Turkish diplomat was elected secretary general of the 53-member Organization of Islamic Countries and relations with Israel cooled.

“Erdogan ramped up his Islamic-oriented policy after his re-election in 2007. He reconciled with Syria, welcomed Hamas leaders in Ankara, hosted Sudanese President Omar Hassan el-Bashir, who is accused of war crimes, and began to undermine Egyptian and Saudi roles in the Sunni moderate Arab world. “

“ Turkey is the only NATO member to host Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and its alignment with Brazil to extricate Iran from stronger sanctions agreed upon by the five permanent members of the Security Council is a direct challenge to American influence in the region.

“Turkey’s attempt to break the blockade on the Hamas-run Gaza Strip was a direct affront not only to Israel, but also to Egypt and the Palestinian Authority.”

——————

And yet President Obama still believes “Turkey can have a positive voice in this whole process.”

To make matters worse, the opinion makers in the US and the EU have come out in favor of lifting the blockade which in effect is in support of Hamas, a terrorist organization. And Obama is on their side.

The strengthening of Hamas effectively strengthens Iran, strangles the peace process and scares the bejeesus out of Egypt and Jordan.

As Obama stands astride the shifting sands what possible vision can he have?

You would think that as the U.S. is losing control of the Middle East and plans to bring most of the boys home before the end of next year, she would need a strong Israel all the more.
Ted Belman
Jerusalem, Israel

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 11th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

from Jeffrey Laurenti <laurenti@tcf.org>
date Fri, Jun 11, 2010 at 3:25 PM
subject Century Foundation: Obama’s Russia investment recouped in canceled missiles

Investment Recouped in Canceled Missiles

by Jeffrey Laurenti

President Obama’s conservative critics have carped about his Russia “reset,” his moves toward nuclear build-down, his hesitant opening to Iran, and the supposedly insipid sanctions he squeezed out of the Security Council on Iran’s nuclear program this week.  They sneered at his Nobel Peace Prize last fall, saying it was an award for rhetoric since he had produced no results.

Where, they have demanded, is the beef?

Today there is a very big beef delivery from the Moscow policy stockyards, one that will feed speculation in policy circles from Washington to Tehran.  The Russians have canceled the long-planned sale of S-300 missiles to Iran.

U.N. Security Council Resolution 1929, adopted June 9th, bans the sale of heavy weapons systems to Iran, including “missiles and missile systems.”  While the S-300 missile sale to Iran was a cash cow for Russia’s hard-pressed military industries, President Dmitri Medvedev agreed these sanctions had to bite in order to prompt Iranian officials to recalibrate their nuclear posture.

Despite Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s public bravado, the canceled missiles are not flies he can casually swat away.  Iran has very much wanted a modernized missile defense system to protect its nuclear facilities against possible attack.  It now knows it cannot get them till those nuclear facilities are under strict international supervision and its enrichment of nuclear fuel is checked.

The suspended sale will not immediately change Iran’s nuclear policy.  But it underscores that Iran’s self-isolation on the issue carries costs that are not trivial.  As Tehran begins to absorb this new reality, the United States should seek direct talks with the Iranians on both the nuclear file and the broader range of American-Iranian relations.  The sanctions, of course, are not an end in themselves, but a wake-up call to invigorate the politics of diplomacy.

Medvedev’s collaboration on fencing in Iran’s nuclear program could only happen because Barack Obama’s far-reaching transformation of U.S. foreign policy has cleared away the toxins that years of aggressive unilateralism had built up in America’s international relations.

The symmetry between the suspended missile sale and Obama’s cancellation of the Bush administration’s ill-conceived antimissile system in Poland is not coincidental.

Obama’s patient investment in rebuilding the bilateral relationship with Russia, his administration’s scrupulous respect for international obligations and rejection of double standards, and the president’s embrace of nuclear weapons phaseout have all been crucial to this telling step in reducing nuclear dangers.

The beef is real.  Well done.

———————–

Jeffrey Laurenti
Senior Fellow anD
Director, Foreign Policy Programs
The Century Foundation

41 East 70th StreeT
New York, New York  10021   USA
Tel.:  +1  (212) 535-4441 ext. 339
E-mail:  laurenti@tcf.org
Web:  www.tcf.org

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 11th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Turkey signs deal with Arab neighbors to create free trade zone

Meanwhile, EU announces plan to grant duty-free access for Palestinian products.  June 10, 2010

Turkey signed a deal Thursday with its Arab neighbors of Syria, Jordan and Lebanon to establish a cooperation council to create a zone of free movement of goods and persons among them.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu emphasized that the deal should not be seen as an alternative to the European Union and invited all other interested countries to join .

Turkey is still eager to join the EU, Davutoglu said, but added that the bloc could not and should not restrict the Muslim country’s relations with its neighbors.

The four countries signed the deal at the Turkish-Arab Economic Forum, where officials from Arab nations burst into applause as Turkey’s prime minister walked to the podium. Turkey’s popularity in the Middle East has risen amid disputes over Israel’s Gaza blockade and United Nations sanctions against Iran.

Meanwhile, the European Union said Thursday that it planned soon to grant duty-free access for Palestinian products.

EU Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht said such a deal would “improve the access of Palestinian exports to the EU (and) help revamp the private sector in the Palestinian Authority.”

De Gucht’s comments were released Thursday after he met with Palestinian Economy Minister Hasan Abu-Libdeh, who said the duty-free access would help the state-building process we are undergoing with the assistance and guidance of close friends such as the EU.

No EU capitals have opposed such a move, likely to take effect within months. The issue carries mostly political significance. EU trade with the Palestinian Authority was only 71 million euros ($85 million) in 2008.

Last month, the EU announced that it would rethink the future size of its 300 million euro aid budget for Palestinians if no progress is made towards peace soon.

The aid is supposed to prepare the Palestinians for a peace treaty with Israel that will give them their own state, but “if that isn’t coming then I can see a number of questions”, said Christian Berger, the EU’s representative in Jerusalem.

The annual assistance given to the Palestinians over the past 16 years represents the EU’s highest per capita foreign aid program. The current seven-year budget, part of which funds United Nations support projects, is locked in until 2013.

EU Ambassador to Israel Andrew Standley said discussions on the next seven-year budget would start soon and focus on how best to spend the money.

There was a debate about whether it should be spent mostly on reducing poverty or more should be devoted to projects that advanced EU geopolitical goals, he said.

After 16 months without negotiations of any kind, Israel and the Palestinians began indirect talks last month on a peace treaty via United States mediator George Mitchell.

“If there’s a breakthrough then I guess there’s a likelihood that our support will be increased,” Berger told reporters at a briefing of EU delegation heads.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 9th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

from: ADC Media <media@adc.org>
date: Wed, Jun 9, 2010 at 10:59 AM
subject: ADC Thanks Ms. Helen Thomas for Legendary Service.

Washington, DC | June 9, 2010 | www.adc.org |  Helen Thomas, 89, Dean of the White House Press Corp, and lauded as a “Pioneer Journalist” and Trailblazer for female journalists,” apologized for her May 27, 2010, response when she was asked “Any comments on Israel…?” and she responded “Tell them to get the [] out of Palestine.” Upon further prodding, Ms. Thomas stated that “Remember these people are occupied and it’s their land…” and those who are the occupiers should “…go home” to “Poland, Germany…And America and everywhere else.”

In her apology, Ms. Thomas wrote:  “I deeply regret my comments I made last week regarding the Israelis and the Palestinians.  They do not reflect my heartfelt belief that peace will come to the Middle East only when all parties recognize the need for mutual respect and tolerance.  May that day come soon.”
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) thanks Ms. Thomas for her legendary service, and acknowledges Ms. Thomas’ apology.  ADC believes that Ms. Thomas should be judged on her “50-plus years of probing journalism, and not on a 30-second sound bite,” as stated by Mr. Zool Zulkowitz, who represents American Jews defending Ms. Thomas.  Mr. Zulkowitz further said that, “We are clear what Helen Thomas meant to say, which is that Israel should cease its occupation of Palestine…” And, as Mr. Paul Jay wrote: “Not all criticism of Israel is anti-Semitism…Helen Thomas’ isn’t.”
As President Obama recognized in his historic address in Cairo on June 4, 2009, the Palestinian people – Muslims and Christians – have endured the pain of dislocation for more than 60 years.  “Many wait in refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza, and neighboring lands for a life of peace and security that they have never been able to lead.  They endure the daily humiliations – large and small – that come with occupation.  So let there be no doubt:  The situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable …”
It is our hope that other journalists would rise in Ms. Thomas’ place and espouse her courage in asking the hard questions.  As Ms. Katrina Vanden Heuvel wrote yesterday in the Washington Post: “…isn’t there room for someone who made a mistake, apologized and wants to continue speaking truth to power and asking tough questions?”   We certainly hope so.  We also hope that we will continue to celebrate Ms. Thomas’ lifetime of courageous, frontline journalism; and that she will not be intimidated by the recent hateful accusations or deterred from her insightful questioning and reporting.

###
Contact: Sara Najjar-Wilson, President
202-244-2990
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), which is non-profit, non-sectarian and non-partisan, is the largest Arab-American civil rights organization in the United States. It was founded in 1980 by former Senator James Abourezk to protect the civil rights of people of Arab descent in the United States and to promote the cultural heritage of the Arabs. ADC has 38 chapters nationwide, including chapters in every major city in the country, and members in all 50 states.
The ADC Research Institute (ADC-RI), which was founded in 1981, is a Section 501(c)(3) educational organization that sponsors a wide range of programs on behalf of Arab Americans and of importance to all Americans. ADC-RI programs include research studies, seminars, conferences and publications that document and analyze the discrimination faced by Arab Americans in the workplace, schools, media, and governmental agencies and institutions. ADC-RI also celebrates the rich cultural heritage of the Arabs.
# # #
——————————————————————————————————-
We posted the above as received for two very important reasons and hope to make myself clear:
(a) we believe in freedom of the press and in the right of a journalist to ask hard questions in a press conference but I do not accept the idea that repeating chaff is deemed as journalistic behavior. Yes, Ms. Thomas made extreme remarks that we can excuse because of her advanced age and we believe that the time has come for her to retire so she could be still remembered as a pioneer when talking of women conquest of the White House Press room. Fine – she said – she excused herself and we can forget.
(b) we believe that Israel has no business in ruling over Gaza – and indeed it does not rule over Gaza. We believe that there should have been two States carved out of old British Mandate of Palestine – but in 1948 only one State was created – The State of Israel. WHAT WAS SUPPOSED TO BECOME A STATE FOR THE ARAB PALESTINE DID NOT COME INTO EXISTENCE BECAUSE OF OCCUPATION BY THE STATES OF JORDAN AND EGYPT. For twenty years Ms. Helen Thomas did not protest the occupation of Palestine by Arabs – where was she then? Did she have any addresses of “hell” at that time?
(c) Now, let me tell the ADC and Helen Thomas that though I am not of Lebanese ancestry, I stood next to Uri Avnery in Ramallah under a Palestinian flag – this because I believe that Israel must negotiate a way out of parts of the West Bank, in ways that allow the Palestinians to live their life without occupation as they have the possibility to do so in Gaza. If life in Gaza is not acceptable, yes, that must be fixed and the Palestinians must cooperate by helping stop the ongoing warfare.
(d) the issue is not Helen Thomas but the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC). Here again, we sympathize with what they set out to do – which as stated at creation was to become the counterpart of the Jewish ADL – The Anti-Defamation League – that made sure Jews are not blamed out of anti-Semmitism and we believe just the same – Arabs should not be blamed out of a post 9/11 anti-Arabism. So far so good. But that does not mean that this line in any way is allowed to become anti-Israelism which is really a new way of expressing anti-Semmitism. This point we bring home by looking up the “Zool Zulkowitz” of the ADC PRESS RELEASE and I will elaborate further on.
(e) tomsupfrontnews.blogspot.com/2006… tells us something about a man called Paul Zoolkowitz who likes to call himself “ZOOL” – this as in “Zoologic animal”
and though I hate to do this – I will post that article in full so you can judge for yourself what this lover of peace and Lyndon LaRouche, member of Ralph Nader’s Green Party, and constant protestor in favor of what he perceives as Arab causes (the war in Iraq, Palestine, dresses like a Black September fighter)  is really like. Just decide for yourselves if he speaks for any Jewish group. And again please, I know of Jewish groups that want Israel to adjust its policies so that negotiations are easier, but these are not paranoic suicidal people. We would rather prefer that the ADC alignes with such people and not self proclaimed Jewish strays that cannot give cover to Arab strays.
—————
—————
FRIDAY, MAY 12, 2006

Trouble is back.

UP FRONT News April 30, 2006
Published by Tom Weiss Editorial Advisor: Willard Whitingham
“The paper that can’t be bought and can’t be sold.”

PAUL ZULKOWITZ: THE BANANA SPLITTER THE RETURN OF “ZOOL”: POLITICAL ZOOLOGY
THE GREEN PARTY OF N.Y. – “GREEN” AS POISON IVY

As a former medical and psychiatric social worker, I remain aware that inpatient hospital unit, medical and psychiatric, in the interests of maintaining third party insurer payments, encourage expeditious discharges. (Insurers often refuse to pay for long hospital stays.) It is apparent that, in the case of the not too log ago involuntarily committed Paul Zulkowitz, his subsequent discharge from the Long Island asylum where he had been taken by the police after he threatened suicide in defense of, among others, the neo-fascist Geoffrey Blank, may have been premature.

This at least politically demented guy, presumably still a somewhat influential member of the “split the left” Green Party of New York, upon his release almost immediately upon his release tried to derail my Democratic Party U.S. Senate candidacy against Hillary Clinton by trying suck his friend Ralph Nader into becoming a carpetbagger to run for the Senate in New York. That trial balloon, like the ill-fated Nazi blimp,  The Hindenburg, crashed after a few e-mails from me to some sane Greens and, via a somewhat personal connection, to Mr. Nader.

Zulkowitz’s next move was to help orchestrate the move by “Unfortunate Son” Brooklyn publisher-yuppie Sander Hicks to stop running as a Green for the governorship and to run for the Senate. Their technique is to do anything to split the left, which, in me, has the only challenger to Hillary Clinton who can at least make her sweat.

Zulkowitz, known throughout the sea of internal conflict known as the peace movement in New York as “Zool”, became quite notorious last year when he created a de facto Lyndon LaRouche outpost in Union Square in Manhattan by parasiting onto the political Energy galvanized by Cindy Sheehan and called it “Camp Casey.” Ms. Sheehan, when she agreed to speak in Union Square last September 19, was of course unaware that “Camp Casey” had become, among other very bad things, a de facto shelter for Zulkowitz’ assistant, the kleptomaniacal boozer who called himself “Totay” and Totay’s
lady friend. The “other very bad things” included the fact that Camp Casey became a hangout for such “left” spouting violence-prone camouflaged LaRouche-style infiltrators like two time City Council loser Gerald Kann and total loser Geoffrey (“The Jewzi”) Blank, a purported descendant of the Hebrews who sings the praises of Saddam Hussein and a Dead Sea of other Jew haters. Zulkowitz was the orchestrater of a classic LaRouche style “create-an-incident” ploy when he willfully withheld from Ms. Sheehan and just about everyone else the fact that he had not gotten a required NYPD sound device permit. This of course required the collaboration of serial offender Blank (lots more than sound permit matters, for which Blank is a literal poster child with the NYPD), who would not even ask for a permit for his nauseating rants in Union Square, then call the cops “pigs” when the men in blue were out of earshot, and then try to convert his recurrent arrests into Maoist events.

And so, as Ms. Sheehan was speaking, a sizeable contingent from the 13th precinct showed up. In what must have been a political decision from higher up, the cops allowed Ms. Sheehan to complete her talk and then immediately arrested Zulkowitz, a small white guy, whose attempted imitation of a Black Panther being oppressed by the police was unconvincing. Indeed, believing Zulkowitz’ and Totay’s lie asserting that there was a police permit, I was arrested later the same day. The following day during one of his interludes of apparent sobriety, Totay admitted to me that there was no permit and that Zulkowitz’ arrest was staged. My guess is that Zulkowitz and his LaRouche-ite tacticians were hoping for an arrest of Ms. Sheehan, a development that would have been front page news in a lot of places.

It was my reporting of this neo-fascist scheme in UP FRONT News that, according to a very reliable informant, who saw Zulkowitz’ e-mailed suicide note, that served as motivation behind Zool’s decision to end it all by jumping off a certain bridge in Nassau County. (One of the recipients of his e-mailed suicide note apparently called the cops who went to the Zulkowitz residence and gave him a choice of psychiatric commitment or incarceration. Evidently, all of Zulkowitz’ revolutionary militancy quickly evaporated and he chose the hospital.

About six weeks ago, Zulkowitz, once again, using a tried and true LaRouche tactic, the death threat, came after me. I learned, one again from a reliable source, that Zulkowitz had made it known that he is in the possession of a Magnum 357 with which he intends to shoot me. And, since the informant is a politically experienced person not given to making practical jokes, when he unsmilingly repeated Zulkowitz’ threat, I reported it to the NYPD. Like his psychopathic neo-fascist ally Blank, Paul Zulkowitz, is rapidly becom-
ing an argument of unwarranted surveillance.

Zulkowitz, in many ways as persistent as the indefatigable Adolf Hitler (although, if you’ve heard the cliché-dependent Zulkowitz, you’ds have to admit that Hitler was a far better speaker) is, like “the Night of the Living Dead”, back with “Camp Casey.” And once again Totay, attractively garbed in warm spring weather wearing bulky winter attire so that he resembles as suicide bomber (he should not travel to for example Tel Aviv and, similarly garbed, walk into a pizza place there – it would be too obvious) is in charge.

On two occasions, once at the end of the massive United for Peace and Justice Festival on April 29 and again on April 30 in Union Square, upon seeing me, Totay, hurling curses and threats, in his somewhat staggering way, charged at me. Totay now joins
potential inmates as a NYPD person of interest.

The politics
POSTED BY TOM WEISS


——————————————————————–
ADC Research Institute (ADC-RI) | www.adc.org
1732 Wisconsin Ave., NW | Washington, DC | 20007
Tel: 202-244-2990 | Fax: 202-333-3980 | E-mail: media@adc.org

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 26th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Seven years since the US toppled Sadam Hussein and also the secular Sunni Baath  party from power, and unleashed centripetal forces, it seems that the return of Iyad Allawi with potential Kurdish and moderate Shiia allies, with less emphasis on religious differences, could allow from some steps backwards that make strangely for progress to a more open society.

Iraqi parliamentary elections this month (March 7, 2010) were credible and no evidence has been found of any systematic or widespread fraud during the vote count, the top United Nations official in the country said today after authorities announced the final election results.  Ad Melkert, from the Netherlands and formerly number 2 at UNDP, now the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative to Iraq, and the head of the UN political mission (known as UNAMI) to the country, said in a statement that Iraqis deserved credit for “an historic achievement.”

The Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) of Iraq unveiled the results tonight (March 26th local time) for the national polls  in which more than 6,000 candidates competed for 325 seats in the Council of Representatives. Over 12 million people cast their votes.

Media reports indicate that Iraqiya, the party headed by Iyad Allawi, a former prime minister, holds a two member lead over the party of Nuri al-Maliki, the current premier, in the number of parliamentary seats won – if it holds it will be 91 to 89 for “The State of Law Alliance” of current prime minister Nuri al-Maliki.

Mr. Melkert called on all candidates to accept the results of the polls and “to assume responsibility to lead Iraq to the next stage of democracy, stability and prosperity for all. Whether winning or losing, participation in the elections has been a collective victory.”  “No election in the world is perfect. There were imperfections and at some places serious issues. We condemn acts of intimidation that have occurred in the course of the process” he said.

In his statement Mr. Melkert said UN officials were confident that the counting process contained the necessary checks and balances, and “there is now a solid basis for ratification by the Supreme Court” of the results.

“All results of almost 50,000 voting stations have been checked at least eight times. On the basis of specific complaints submitted by different entities, specific audits have been held on places with indications of irregularities. Ballot boxes that could not stand the test have not been included in the count. We have not found evidence of systematic failure or fraud of widespread nature.”
Mr. Melkert added that the conclusion was therefore that the overall election process, including the campaigning period, polling day and the count “has met reasonable demands and standards, with errors and doubts remaining within normal margins.”

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, declared that he would not recognize the results. He said he would challenge them in court.
“Some of these results are unacceptable and unreasonable,” he said.

Allawi, a secular Shiite who stepped down as prime minister five years ago, is returning to the center of Iraqi politics as he received millions of votes from Sunni Arabs that did not vote in the 2005 elections, a minority that has felt marginalized since Sunni dictator Saddam Hussein was toppled in 2003.

Allawi and his political coalition won Sunni support in part because he is considered less sectarian than other Shiite leaders and was not in office during the vicious sectarian bloodletting that marked the first two years of Maliki’s tenure.

On Friday, today, in Sunni and mixed Shiite-Sunni areas across the capital, where Allawi was most popular, residents shot bullets into the air in celebration.

Iraqis have witnessed five changes of government in the 7 years since the U.S. invasion in 2003.

An estimated 12 million Iraqis voted for their next parliament, which will assume control as the U.S. military draws down significantly over the summer, and ultimately leaves Iraq at the end of 2011.

The process has been clouded by cries of fraud from Maliki and his allies, who invoked the prime minister’s role as “commander in chief of the armed forces” in demanding a manual recount on Sunday. Maliki warned that if elections are deemed illegitimate, the country could descend into chaos.

U.N. and U.S. officials have said that there are no signs of widespread fraud.

Analysts and officials worry that Maliki and his allies are implicitly calling for supporters in the south and the capital to rise up if a recount is not conducted. U.S. officials hope for a smooth transfer of power.

“When one looks at the challenges that this country has gone through you can take some heart from the fact that people seem to manage to survive these challenges, to get through them,” the United States’ ambassador to Iraq, Christopher R. Hill, said in an interview this week. “We try to deal with things in a calm way with the understanding that this is monumental and emotions are high.”

Allawi, who has been tarnished in the past by his alliances with groups that Shiites consider sympathizers of Hussein’s Baath Party, The Washington Post thinks, he might now find it hard to get together with Kurdish and Shiite groups. Nevertheless, he will need their support in order to garner the votes needed to endorse a future government with himself as prime minister.

The two other large blocks of seats in parliament are The Iraqi National Alliance which is an Iranian backed Shiia religious party that includes pro-Iranian cleric Moktada al Sadr that got 70 seats,  and the Kurdistan Alliance that includes both main Kurdish parties – the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, which together got 43 sets, but lost 8 seats to a third Kurdish movement called Goran or Change. So, besides of the four main blocks, there are further 32 deputes that are outside those blocks, like the 8 members from Kurdistan.

Frictions between Allawi and the Kurdish block will arise because of the contested Kirkuk region, but even if this gets smoothed, there will not be enough votes in Parliament, as it seems hard to believe that Allawi could get all of the 32 outsiders, so he must chip away from one of the two major Shiia blocks. After all – Iraq has a majority of Shiia and this will show through any democratic process. The UN enthused reception of the results may be factually true, but in practice, from a good election to a stable government – the road is still very long.

The questions that pop up from the American reporting might perhaps have to do with the lack of understanding in Washington of  Iraq in the first place. If Saddam’s megalomenia was the enemy that started it all, then having dismantled his bureaucracy and army, removed all trappings of a State, lead Iraq into the resultant mess. Then insisting Iraq does not fall apart into its three ingredients allowed for the Shiia majority takeover, more instability, and eventually the present correction so that a more balanced State can be born from the ashes, in time for the US to declare mission accomplished, and leave the Iraqis in a state good enough to let them find their own destiny within their own borders.Will the Iraqis be now magnanimous enough to the US and play along?

Will after all of this, Iraq become the first democratic, secular, modern Arab State of the Middle East? Ahead of the potential Palestinian State near the west bank of the river Jordan? Or will Iraq fall back to bickering among its three major ingredients and eventually give birth to Sunni – Kurdish warfare over Kirkuk and an alliance of the two basically more Arab ethnic blocks as in the presently competing two leading blocks?

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 13th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Billionaire Among Us: How Mexicans See Carlos Slim.


Emily Schmall Contributor, AOL News.

MEXICO CITY (March 13) — How does a country battered by a lethal drug war and the worst recession since the 1930s react when one of its own, Carlos Slim Helu, is deemed by Forbes magazine to be the world’s richest person? In a word, mixed.

“There’s no way for a country with so many poor to have the world’s richest man without something being awry,” said Pedro Dominguez, a mechanic from Puebla. “The problem is, most Mexican people have no way to attain this kind of wealth.”

“He has my respect,” countered Rafael Contreras Martinez, a housepainter from Izucar de Matamoros, on his way to a job. “I’m not going to speak ill of a man who has worked and struggled.”

Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim walks before a meeting in Cozumel, Mexico in  2009.

Luis Acosta, AFP / Getty Images
Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim uses public transportation and lives in the same Mexico City house he purchased with his wife Soumaya 40 years ago. Here, he heads to a meeting in Cozumel, Mexico, last summer.
Slim, a 70-year-old son of a Lebanese immigrant, built a fortune Forbes pegs at $53.5 billion on the privatization of Mexico’s telecommunications. The bulk of that wealth consists of holdings in his companies, which carry an enormous weight in the economic life of Mexico.

Slim’s son-in-law and sometimes spokesman, Arturo Elias Ayub, an executive at Telefonos de Mexico SAB, the country’s dominant fixed-line phone company and the linchpin of Slim’s fortune, said Slim’s No. 1 status reflects investors’ “confidence.”

“We’re happy that there’s a lot of confidence in Mexico, confidence in the companies in the group and in the development of Latin America,” Elias said in a telephone interview from Mexico City.

Slim could not be reached for comment because he was traveling in Lebanon to meet with President Michel Suleiman and other officials, Elias said.

Slim’s father arrived in Mexico from Lebanon in 1902 and made a small fortune by acquiring property during the Mexican Revolution. Slim’s own strategy has been to buy struggling companies on the cheap and turn them into cash cows.


In 1990, in a joint venture with Southwestern Bell, France Telecom and several private Mexican investors, his holding company, Grupo Carso, won the bid to privatize Telmex. Since then, Slim has profited from taking risks on troubled companies. His latest forays include a $250 million investment in The New York Times Co., which made him one of the company’s largest shareholders. He also recently took an 18 percent stake in U.S. retailer Saks, prompting several board members to resign out of fear of a hostile takeover.

Slim, who can often be sighted wearing an expensive suit and eating a meal at his restaurant chain, Sanborn’s, portrays himself as a modest man without any particular political leaning. He uses public transportation and lives in the same Mexico City house he purchased with his wife Soumaya 40 years ago. Now a widower, Slim turned over the daily operations of his companies to his children in 2004. One son, Patrick Slim, is chairman of America Movil, Latin America’s largest mobile-phone company; another, Carlos Slim Domit, is at the helm of Slim’s holding company Grupo Carso; and a third, Marco Antonio Slim, leads the banking company Inbursa. Two of Slim’s daughters are married to telecom executives within their father’s corporate empire.

Slim has had to fight charges of monopolistic practices that critics say are essentially sanctioned by the Mexican government. His control of Mexico’s telecommunications, restaurants, retail stores, banking, construction companies and an industrial conglomerate lead some to say it is impossible for a Mexican to go a day without generating income for Slim’s businesses.

Slim has donated $10 billion since 2006 through his two foundations. The money has gone toward the restoration of Mexico City’s historic center, to help convert a former red-light district into an essentially open-air mall near the city’s business district, and toward an $800 million mixed-use development in a defunct tire factory, which will include an art museum named after his late wife.

“My big criticism is not about this often well-intentioned man, but rather the system that has permitted his enormous accumulation of wealth and the monopoly he’s enjoyed over 20 years,” said Luis Linares Zapata, an economic aide to Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, a former Mexico City mayor and left-wing presidential candidate.

Slim and the eight other Mexicans on Forbes’ list — including drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera — are collectively worth $90.3 billion, equivalent to 10 percent of Mexico’s gross domestic product.

David Lozano, an economics professor at Mexico’s National Autonomous University, told Mexico City paper La Jornada that the concentration of Mexico’s wealth among a few is a consequence of a lack of rights for workers and economic regulation. “Labor and economic conditions are similar to those we had before the Mexican Revolution began a century ago,” Lozano said.

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