.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Hamas hints at taking over the West Bank

In yet another little-reported story, Hamas on Thursday made a slightly oblique threat to the PA. From Ma'an:
Hamas refused to rule out the option of taking control of the West Bank if Fatah do not change their policies towards Hamas activists in the area. The statement was made in a press release by Sami Abu Zuhri, the official Hamas spokesperson in the West Bank on Thursday.

Abu Zuhri said "the current situation in the West Bank is similar to that in the Gaza Strip before Hamas took control. Security forces are committing crimes in their interrogation and torture centers."

"We remind them [Fatah]," he continued, "that they planted thorns and they will harvest regret."

Hamas have been accused by Fatah of the creation of an executive to carry out a coup in the West Bank similar to the one in the Gaza Strip. They have previously denied any plans to overthrow the caretaker government in the West bank, and while this falls short of a declaration of such an intention, it will be seen as a stepping up of the rhetoric around this issue.
I've noted before that Hamas' support in the West Bank is extensive and Fatah's is not nearly as strong as wishful thinkers in the West assume:
In the local PA elections of 2005, before the Hamas victory in the legislative elections, Hamas won the majority of seats in Nablus (73% of the vote to Fatah's 13%) , Al-Bireh (72% of the vote) and Jenin (winning eight seats to Fatah's four.) Fatah didn't even win a majority in Ramallah; although it outpolled Hamas there it ended up tied with the Popular Front.
This is yet another elephant in the room that the international community chooses to ignore. While Hamas is probably not in a position to take over the West Bank today, chances are very good that in the aftermath of any Israeli withdrawal from territory for "peace" that Hamas would move into the vacuum before Fatah even realizes it. Hamas is better organized and has a stronger ideology than Fatah, and its strength attracts recruits. Fatahs' major security accomplishment has been a crackdown on car thieves.

In Gaza, Fatah didn't just lose - it folded rather than seriously challenge Hamas. What objective reasons can anyone bring to say that this couldn't or wouldn't happen in the West Bank? The hundreds of millions of dollars that poured into the PA coffers for "security" were completely wasted in Gaza, and chances are very good that they are being equally wasted in the West Bank, while Hamas is methodically increasing its budget, ties to Iran, operational efficiency and firepower.

And as usual, the West as well as Israeli liberals choose to ignore the lessons of last year's coup and barrel forth with an exact repeat of the mistakes of Gaza.

More Peaceful PalArab news

Palestine Press Agency reports that Hamas swept through Gaza and arrested many more Fatah leaders, as well as a 70-year old sheikh.

This happened only hours after Mahmoud Abbas ordered all of the Hamas detainees in the West Bank who had been arrested in the past week to be released.

Meanwhile, for the first time in ten years, Jordan has started talking to Hamas.

One reason that Hamas is being seen as more mainstream is because of the existence of the even more extremist groups emerging. Today was apparently the anniversary of the fall of the Ottoman empire, and Hizb ut Tahrir (The Liberation Party) tried to demonstrate in the West Bank, but the PA arrested many of them instead. However, in Gaza, hundreds of its members demonstrated for the restoration of the caliphate, for all Muslims to live in that pan-Muslim state under Sharia law, and to continue to fight the Jews ("a conflict with no limits") - not the "Zionists" - as well as the USA and current Arab regimes.

Just another massacre (1898)

To be sure, in this same time period there were much worse atrocities against Jews in Europe, especially Russia. But whenever Arab apologists claim that "For centuries, Jews and Arabs lived together in peace," keep in mind what kind of peace it was.

Family denies son of Hamas leader converted to Christianity

This has got to be one of the funnier denials of all time:
Reports that Massab Yousif, son of Sheikh Hassan Yousif a high profile Hamas leader, has converted to Christianity and rejected Palestinian resistance, have been denied by his family.

The initial report was printed on Thursday in Ha'aretz, a leading Israeli paper, which said that their correspondent had interviewed Massab.

The Ha'aretz interview quotes Massab as saying that "the nation, the religion, the organization," of his youth were what made him convert. The article claims that Massab does not want to be part of a society that he apparently described as, "sanctifying death and the suicide terrorists."

Suhaib, Mussab's brother, has strongly denied these claims. He said that while his brother is indeed in United States, he has not converted to Christianity and is adhering to Islam.

Suhaib went on to express his disappointment that Palestinian news outlets, including Ma'an, had picked up the story from Ha'aretz saying, "how could they report such news and quote Hebrew newspapers without contacting Mussab?"

The family said they are considering their legal options to deal with what they called a totally made up story.
Hmmm, who has more credibility - Ha'aretz or a Hamas family? This is a tough one....

Obama: "Israelis crazy not to accept Saudi peace plan"

Via Middle East Times, I have not yet been able to find the original:
Al-Hayat (London): Abbas: 'Obama Told Me Israelis Crazy Not To Accept Arab Initiative' – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told the Palestinian community in Cairo that US Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama had told him Israel would be "crazy if they don't accept" the Arab peace initiative, "because that would allow them to live in peace and security from Mauritania to Indonesia." Abbas said this was Obama's response when he explained to him the 2002 initiative, in which the Arabs offered to normalize relations with Israel in return for the latter's withdrawal from the territories it captured in 1967.
This plan is of course suicidal for Israel, as it calls for Israel to accept hundreds of thousands if not millions of Palestinian Arabs, for Israel to abandon 100% of its 1967 territories and return to a state that is nine miles wide, for Israel to abandon the Golan and to lose east Jerusalem including the Old City.

If this is what Obama believes then he is somewhere between stupidly naive and maliciously dangerous.

Today's peaceful PalArab news

Hamas infighting is intensifying; leader Ismail Haniyeh was injured when trying to break up a fight between members of the main two factions of Hamas, requiring hospitalization. The argument deteriorated into a fight and eventually to people firing bullets in the air. It was first announced that Haniyeh would be in the hospital for only a day, but now it is three days. Reporters are not allowed in the hospital.

Many believe that recent bombings in Gaza were the result of Hamas infighting, not from Fatah or Islamists.

There are reports that Hamas is now blaming the "Helles" family for the bombings that killed 6 last Friday; and that this family was retaliating for resisting the arrest of a member. The family denies it.

A man was shot dead upon apparently being released from Hamas detention in Gaza. There are claims that it was a clan clash but that is unclear.

There are reports that 21 people are in the Shifa hospital in Gaza recovering from a Hamas torture technique - poisoning them with cooking gas. (Separating fact from rumor is literally impossible, but I've seen this claim before.)

A terror group, apparently from Gaza, claims to have shot at some Israeli houses in the Negev. No confirmation from Israel.

Teh 2008 PalArab self-death count is now 126.


Hamas leader's son converts to Christianity, loves Israel

From Haaretz:
Masab, son of West Bank Hamas leader Sheikh Hassan Yousef who is also the most popular figure in that extremist Islamic organization, a young man who assisted his father for years in his political activities, has become a rank-and-file Christian. "I'm now called Joseph," he says...

Nor does he attempt to hide his affection for Israel, or his abhorrence of everything representing the surroundings in which he grew up: the nation, the religion, the organization.

"Send regards to Israel, I miss it. I respect Israel and admire it as a country," he says.

"You Jews should be aware: You will never, but never have peace with Hamas. Islam, as the ideology that guides them, will not allow them to achieve a peace agreement with the Jews. They believe that tradition says that the Prophet Mohammed fought against the Jews and that therefore they must continue to fight them to the death."
The full interview will be published tomorrow.

This news is the top headline in the Palestine Press Agency and one of the top headlines in Ma'an. There are no comments yet in the PalPress story.


Can Israel recover from the Olmert era? (TNR)

From Yossi Klein Halevi in The New Republic:

Is it really time for eulogies? Is the abyss known as the "Olmert era" closing? Ehud Olmert has been eulogized so often that, even now, after announcing his intention to resign as Israeli prime minister when the Kadima party holds primaries for a new leader in mid-September, some Israelis don't quite believe it. What's the catch, they wonder?

Like a parody of Jewish survival, Olmert has persisted, indestructible. The Lebanon fiasco of summer 2006 ended the careers of defense minister Amir Peretz and IDF chief of staff Dan Halutz, but Olmert lingered. So far, he has evaded a half-dozen police investigations. (Israeli joke: What do Olmert and the Torah have in common? Parshat hashavuah--a phrase that means the weekly Torah reading but could also mean the "scandal of the week.") He admitted to receiving cash in envelopes from New York fundraiser Morris Talansky, and Israeli newspapers have published copies of letters Olmert sent to prominent businessmen soliciting help for Talansky's business interests. But still the indictment tarried.

Then came the revelation that he may have subsidized family trips with funds stolen from the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum and from an organization for handicapped children--a scandal the press called "Olmert Tours." How, we wondered, could even he survive that one? But Olmert--portrayed in one newspaper caricature as a bandana-wearing contestant in the reality show "Survivor"--has continued to make life and death decisions for the Jewish state.

Olmert is the embodiment of what has been, for Israel, the year of scandal: a president accused of rape, a finance minister accused of massive embezzlement, a deputy prime minister found guilty of forcing his tongue into the mouth of a young woman soldier. Olmert, two years after assuming office and promising to make Israel a more "fun" place to live, leaves us a nation in shame. He went to war in Lebanon to restore our military deterrence and destroy Hezbollah's military capacity. Instead, he shattered Israeli self-confidence in our ability to defend ourselves, and empowered Hezbollah as the strongest force in Lebanese politics, with an arsenal three times larger than it possessed before Olmert's war.

Olmert is the first Israeli leader--perhaps the first democratic leader anywhere --to threaten his own country with destruction if it rejected his policies. Israel, he warned, is "finished" if it didn't withdraw from the West Bank. Yet in failing to defeat Hamas, he has insured the impossibility of a two-state solution for the foreseeable future, leaving us without a political or military option.

Perhaps Olmert's greatest offense was in debasing our public discourse with terms like "Talansky's envelopes" and "Olmert Tours," diverting our attention from the imminent nuclearization of Iran and the growing power of Hezbollah and Hamas. Instead of focusing on Israel's survival, we have been preoccupied with the melodrama of Olmert's survival.

Now comes the hard work of restoring sanity to Israeli politics. Neither of Kadima's leading candidates to replace Olmert--Foreign Minister Tzippi Livni and Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz--has the trust of the public. Livni is seen as honest but ineffectual, lacking minimal security credentials; Mofaz, though a former IDF chief of staff, is a lackluster politician with a credibility problem. (As a former Likud leader, he promised to remain in the Likud and immediately abandoned the then-sinking party for Kadima.)

Whoever wins in the Kadima primaries will almost certainly try to create a national unity government that will include the Likud. So far, though, the Likud is insisting it will remain in opposition until general elections are held. But that could abruptly change if Israeli military intelligence concludes that Iran is about to go nuclear--a threat whose neutralization requires the credibility of a unity government. The emergence of such a government will be the most telling sign that the country is beginning to heal itself from the tabloid scandals of the Olmert years and is now ready to restore Israeli deterrence by dealing with the Iranian crisis.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Happy Laylat ul Isra and Mi'raj!

Tonight, Muslims celebrate the anniversary of Mohammed's "Night Voyage" where tradition says he went to the "farthest mosque" (the Isra) and then took a side trip around heaven (the Mi'raj), where he bargained with Allah (on Moses' advice) to reduce the number of daily prayers from fifty to five.

The entire Muslim claim to Jerusalem comes from this story, of which the Koran only elliptically alludes to, in verses 1 and 60 of chapter 17:
1. Glory to (Allah) Who did take His servant for a Journey by night from the Sacred Mosque to the farthest Mosque, whose precincts We did bless,- in order that We might show him some of Our Signs: for He is the One Who heareth and seeth (all things).

60. Behold! We told thee that thy Lord doth encompass mankind round about: We granted the vision which We showed thee, but as a trial for men,- as also the Cursed Tree (mentioned) in the Qur'an: We put terror (and warning) into them, but it only increases their inordinate transgression!
The idea that the "farthest mosque" is Jerusalem is far from universal, even among Muslims.

In this translation, the translator identifies that mosque as being in heaven:
17:1 "The Aqsa Mosque" means "the farthest place where there is prostration," many billions of Light Years away. This verse informs us that Muhammad, the soul, was taken to the highest Heaven to be given the Quran
And four years ago MEMRI translated an Egyptian article that claimed that the furthest mosque was in Medina:
This text tells us that Allah took His Prophet from the Al-Haram Mosque [in Mecca] to the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Thus, two mosques are [referred to] here, the first of which is the Al-Haram Mosque, and the second of which is the Al-Aqsa Mosque. 'Al-Aqsa' is a form of superlative which means 'the most distant.' Therefore, the place to which the Prophet was taken must be a mosque, and not a place where a mosque was to be established later, nor a place where a mosque had once stood. This place must be very far from the Al-Haram Mosque. It need not be [actually] built, as the Al-Haram Mosque [itself] was at that time merely an open space around the Ka'ba [and not a building].

"But in Palestine during that time, there was no mosque at all that could have been the mosque 'most distant' from the Al-Haram Mosque. During that time, there were no people in [Palestine] who believed in Muhammad and would gather to pray in a specific place that served as a mosque. Most of the inhabitants of Palestine were Christians, and there was among them a Jewish minority. Although the Koran refers respectfully to Jewish and Christian houses of worship, it does not call any of them a mosque, rather 'churches and synagogues' (Surat Al-Hajj [22]:40). The construction of the mosque situated today in Jerusalem and known as the Al-Aqsa Mosque began only in the year 66 of the Hijra of the Prophet – that is, during the era of the Omayyad state, not during the time of the Prophet nor that of any of the Righteous Caliphs. So much for the mosque."

"As for the word asra, if we open the Koran and trace the instances in which it occurs we find the following [five] verses.… [3] Hence [the verbal noun] isra' means 'moving secretly from a place of danger to a safe place.' The meaning of the [Koranic] expression 'He took His servant by night' is that He ordered him to journey in secret from his enemies to a place where he and his mission would be secure. In other words, the text speaks of the Hijra of the Prophet from Mecca to Medina, and not of a visit to Palestine. [Indeed], the Hijra of the Prophet [to Medina] was carried out unbeknownst to his enemies.

Of course, the Koran never mentions Jerusalem at all. Jerusalem's "Al Aqsa" mosque was built a hundred years later and named for this fairy tale.

But since Islam can't stand to see Jews controlling Jerusalem, the lie that the Koran refers to that city will continue for a long time.

Recent Elder scoops

Very occasionally, I like to brag.

Today, the Jerusalem Post reported on Hamas shaving off the mustache of a Fatah leader - nearly 36 hours after I did.

On July 17, I reported on the PalArab claim that Zionists trained rats to terrorize Jerusalem Arabs - two days before any other media outlet picked it up.

And just going through my July postings, I see many other articles that no other English-language media noticed or reported.

To quote Men in Black, "Best investigative reporting on the planet. But go ahead, read the New York Times if you want. They get lucky sometimes. "

Saudi Vice, episode 18: Pet Peeve



Dogs and cats are cute. And this is what makes them evil.

In addition, it is of course against Sharia law to own a dog as a pet.

But beyond that...what woman can resist petting an adorable dog or cat? It is impossible to imagine that she wouldn't, because women are so inherently weak.

Some unsavory Saudi men have noticed this female weakness, and have taken advantage of it. They would wantonly walk dogs in public areas, forcing chaste Saudi women - against their conscious will - to pet and coo over these hideous beasts that are denigrated in the holy hadiths. Once they pet the animals, it is only a short step to full-blown adultery with the dog owner.

So it is imperative that innocent Saudi women and girls be protected from their evil petting impulses. But how can we protect them?

Luckily, our heroes, the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, have the solution. They have outlawed everyone in Saudi Arabia from owning pet dogs and cats.
Othman al-Othman, head of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice in Riyadh, known as the Muttawa, told the Saudi edition of al-Hayat daily that the commission was implementing a decision taken a month ago by the acting governor of the capital, Prince Sattam bin Abdul Aziz, adding that it follows an old edict issued by the supreme council of Saudi scholars.

The reason behind reinforcing the edict now was a rising fashion among some men using pets in public "to make passes on women and disturb families," he said, without giving more details.

Othman said that the commission has instructed its offices in the capital to tell pet shops "to stop selling cats and dogs".

Thanks to Allah and the Commission, innocent Saudi women can now walk the streets freely without being forced to stop themselves from petting dogs and cats.

Today's peaceful PalArab news (UPDATED)

PA president Abbas is royally ticked off at a Ha'aretz article that claims that he threatened to dissolve his government if Israel released Hamas prisoners for a deal for Gilad Shalit. He is threatening to sue Ha'aretz.

A German news agency closed its Gaza office in protest of Hamas arresting one of its cameramen and detaining him without charge since Saturday.

Hamas evidently looted a museum with hundreds of Palestinian Arab "antiquities" in Gaza City.

A Hamas member who was shot by the Army of Islam in clashes a few days ago has died.

The 2008 PalArab self-death count is now at 124.

UPDATE:
PCHR goes into great detail of all of the abuses being done by Hamas in Gaza since Friday, even listing 150 "civil service" organizations that were raided by Hamas.

UPDATE 2: A boy was accidentally shot by his brother in the Nusseirat camp in Gaza. 125.

"Islamic Idol?" Koran-reading competition


From Al-Arabiya:
Algerian TV will launch an Islamic-inspired adaptation with a twist of the infamous Arab talent show Star Academy following a ban on the Lebanese version. Instead of showcasing contestants' singing talents, the new show, a collaboration between Algerian TV and the Ministry of Religious Affairs, will be a Quran recitation competition.

The decision comes as part of a plan to implement more balance in the messages Algerian T.V. delivers to its audience. Star Academy, one of the most successful programs in Arab television history, enjoyed a large number of viewers in Algeria because of its prime time slot but was banned because of excessive "nudity."

Sixteen contestants were chosen for the new show from 15,000 applicants. The show will host the most prominent reciters from Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Turkey, and Indonesia.

The best Quran reciter will be named "Knight of Quran" and will be announced on the last day of Ramadan. Throughout the show, the competitors will recite verses from the Quran and the audience will vote for who they think is best.
I wonder if they will have three celebrity critics as well.

"I don't think you chose the best verse, calba. You didn't convince me that you really wanted to kill the infidels. I think you would have been better off doing something from The Cow."



"Great job! I could feel Allah's words in their pristine form. It was almost as if I only heard that verse six hundred times before. I mean this from my heart, from one Abdul to another. Allah akbar!"




"That performance was simply dreadful. Your meter was off and your accent makes you sound more Canadian than Arab. You may have a good future career as a torturer in a Syrian prison."

Reports of secret Iranian nuclear bomb plant

A Kuwaiti newspaper has reported on a secret Iranian nuclear weapons site in southwestern Iran.
The Kuwaiti Arab Times translated part of the article:
A secret nuclear bomb manufacturing center at Al-Zarqan Area in Al-Ahwaziya Region, which was first established in 2000, was discovered recently, highly reliable sources told Al-Seyassah. Sources from Al-Ahwaziya claimed Tehran has started building a secret nuclear plant for manufacturing atomic bombs in Al-Zarqan Area near Al-Ahwaz City in southwest Iran and its border with Iraq. Sources said the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is not aware of this plant since it was not included in negotiations with Iran held in Geneva at the beginning of this month.

Sources revealed Iran started implementing the project some time between 2000 and 2003, which led to the evacuation of a large number of Arab tribes from the area to Al-Zarqan. Sources added the Tehran administration vacated the location, destroyed all the houses, wells and farms, and started full implementation of the project in 2007.


Disclosing Tehran directed international A-bomb inspectors to other places, sources warned the project poses a very serious threat to international security. Sources affirmed the Iranian authorities built a three-meter high wall around the project site, which allegedly measures thousands of kilometers.

Sources added IAEA inspectors focused on other Iranian nuclear plants, such as Dour Khawain in Al-Ahwaz and Bu Shahri reactor, because the Iranian government diverted the international media’s attention from the secret nuclear plant. Sources asserted the Iranian government is currently working on another nuclear program touted to be more dangerous than Bu Shahri.

According to sources, intensified security efforts raised doubts on the legality of the activities in the area, especially after observing a heavy presence of Revolutionary Guards which, sources pointed out, indicates the importance of the area.

Reportedly, Al-Ahwaziya - an Islamic Sunni organization - in coordination with National Society for Arabstan State, started investigations on the activities in the area. The organization allegedly received documents from the company in charge of the project that frequently transports employees to and from the project site. After a thorough investigation, sources said the organization uncovered plans of the Iranian regime to build an A-bomb plant in the area.
Attached with a report about the alleged plant are documents from the office of the assistant of Revolutionary Guard Chief in Al-Ahwaz City Brigadier Hassan Jalaliyan — dated April 7, 2008 — and stamped as “highly confidential”.


Sources revealed ‘Al-Zarqan Nuclear Reactor’ was the subject of a letter from Jalaliyan to the manager of Mehab Qudus Company for Construction and Supervisory, Mohammed Kayafir.
In the letter, Jalaliyan allegedly asked Kayafir to secretly transport the construction materials from the warehouse to the nuclear reactor center, emphasizing that citizens should not question the purpose and destination of the materials.


Jalaliyan has also instructed Kayafir not to recruit Arabic-speaking workers from Khuzestan for the construction of Al-Zarqan Nuclear Reactor. He said employees, including the administration staff, should all be recruited from the northern parts of the country.

National Society for Arabstan State took satellite pictures of the location, which looked perfect for the construction of a nuclear reactor. It is near Karoon River which, sources say, will provide water for the project in addition to increasing the capacity of Al-Zarqan Power Plant. The site is more suitable for building a nuclear reactor than Bu Shahri, which is close to American bases and Dour Khuwain Plant located in an open area and an easy target. Al-Zarqan Nuclear Reactor is in the middle of very highly populated areas, making it a very difficult target due to a possibility that the Iranian authorities will use civilians as human shields.

MEMRI shows a copy of the letter and translates it as well:

"From the IRGC Commander in the city of Al-Ahwas to the director in charge at the Mehab Qudus company for Construction and Supervision Mr. Mohammed Kayafir

"Re: The nuclear reactor at Al-Zarqan

"Greetings,

"I thank you for the good services of the Mehab Qudus company, and at the same time I must remind you of the following items:

"1. All construction materials must be transported from the warehouses to the construction site in top secrecy.

"2. As part of the doctrine of caution, we reiterate yet again that during the transport of all required materials, you must ensure that this [transport] does not arouse the suspicions of any citizen in the region through which you are moving.

"3. In general, it is absolutely forbidden to hire any Arabic speakers or any citizen from Khozestan in the framework of the 'Al-Zarqan Nuclear Reactor' construction project. You must ensure that all manpower, including the driver, the accountant, the warehouse manager, the laborer, the technician, or the guard, comes from the northern provinces.

"In conclusion, we say yet again that all the construction work in this project must be carried out under absolute secrecy.

"From the aide to IRGC commander in the city of Al-Ahwaz, Hassan Jalaliyan."

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Kuwaiti brags about "religious freedom"

An unwittingly funny article in Kuwait's Arab Times claims that Kuwait has a great degree of religious freedom - and then proves how it doesn't:
A prominent lawyer says that Kuwait is rated highly among its GCC peers in terms of religious freedom, as the country’s Constitution recognizes many religions. “This is reflected in the fact that we had Kuwaiti Jews. We also have many Kuwaitis, who are Christians. The Kuwaiti Jews left Kuwait like many others from the Middle Eastern countries, including Iraq, Egypt and Yemen after the Arab-Israeli conflict in 1947,” he adds.
Actually, the Kuwaiti Jews left beforehand, in the 1920s, but they were not persecuted.
Speaking to the Arab Times on Monday, Labeed Abdal, the Head of the Civil law Revision Committee at the Kuwait Bar Association (KBA), added that the Bohra Community, an offshoot of Shia, have the right to practice their beliefs and rituals, even as “they should be allowed to build their own place of worship, especially because they do practice Islam and have the same Islamic foundations.”

Abdal is a Constitutional expert, who has represented Kuwait Parliament Speaker, Jassem Al-Khorafi in the Constitutional Court. According to Labeed, the Constitution of Kuwait states in Article 35 that the freedom of belief is absolute and that the State projects the freedom of practicing religion in accordance with established customs, provided that it does not conflict with public interest or morals. To a question whether other religious minorities should be allowed to build places of worship, he replied in the affirmative and added that there are no restrictions to practicing religious rituals provided permission is obtained from concerned authorities.


Commenting on the recent arrests of some people for devil worship, Abdal went on to say that public morals and interest come into play whilst practicing a particular religion. “This is because a particular religion in actuality may contradict with the core beliefs of the society. In that context, devil worship certainly violated the Kuwaiti laws,” he adds. The lawyer said that the number of Kuwaiti Christians is growing and that the religion in question represents one of the main religions in Kuwait after Islam.

Kuwait's constitution also says:

Article 2

The religion of the State is Islam, and the Islamic Sharia shall be a main source of legislation.

Article 12

The State safeguards the heritage of Islam and of the Arabs and contributes to the furtherance of human civilization.
Compared to Saudi Arabia, I suppose Kuwait has more religious freedom, but the fact that it does not tolerate any religions that cannot co-exist with Islam seems to be a bit of a factor that is being soft-pedaled.

The big question would be if Hindus could build a temple in Kuwait.

"Disinfect the Jews from Jerusalem"

Auto-translation is not an exact science, but this one caught my eye:
The Lebanese Mufti Sheikh Dr. Mohammad Rasheed Qabbani said today to the Muslims of the world to be ready to protect Jerusalem and the Holy Land.

The Mufti Qabbani, in a letter addressed to the Muslims and the Lebanese on the anniversary of Isra and Mi'raaj, the connotations of this anniversary to emphasize the importance of Jerusalem and the sanctity of the place where God Almighty.

He added that this evidence shows what should be the Arabs and Muslims in every age and era, it is ready to preserve the holy land in Jerusalem and Palestine, and protection and disinfection of the occupiers.
While this is normal Arab-speak, it is hard not to be struck by the contrast of how the two sides speak about Jerusalem.

Compare:
Palestinian Authority Spokesman Nabil Abu Rudaina said that Palestinian Authority will not accept any deal that does not include Jerusalem since it is considered a red line.
With:
President Shimon Peres, following Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Vice Prime Minister Chaim Ramon, has become the latest mainstream politician to intimate that Jerusalem must be divided.
Yes, under the Kadima government it is now the Jews who are trying to give away parts of Jerusalem and the Arabs who seem to love it.

Ironic that these are both reversals of traditional positions, as Arabs historically ignored Jerusalem and Jews venerated it.

One can only pray that the current government falls, and fast. Not only is it suicidal but it spits in the face of 2000 years of longing, let alone the brave soldiers who recaptured Jerusalem in 1967.

When is the Israeli government going to articulate its own red lines as passionately as the Arabs do? There was a time when Israel had red lines, and they have gone by the wayside, one by one, by the current disastrous and borderline traitorous ruling party.

If the two sets of red lines do not intersect anywhere, that is not a reason to unilaterally eliminate yours. On the contrary, it is reason to protect it more.

Hamas shaves off Fatah leader's mustache



In what is being regarded as a major humiliation, Hamas abducted Fatah leader Nafez Mohammed - and shaved his mustache off.

The pro-Fatah Palestine Press Agency is going apoplectic. When their articles veer from straight reporting of news to foaming at the mouth anger, the autotranslation quality deteriorates, but the emotions come through:
Seems to hate Ahamsawi and vicious campaign that came to justify murder and treachery exercised by criminals Hamas lawless among themselves without any religious or moral dearest did not stop but continued and the overall aim to shake the confidence and resolve of the sons of the Fatah movement who number of abductees Hundreds of them in addition to dozens of torture and prevent human rights institutions and slaughterhouses from entering cells of Hamas in Gaza.

What explains the hatred and Hamas on that people, especially children opened their behavior beyond the religion and custom and practice has confirmed the Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, military wing of Fatah movement in a press statement, he arrived in Palestine Press News Agency that "ferocious campaign for the Hamas militia are still continuing with the abduction was 4 of leaders Battalions, including Mohammed Nafez Show "Abu Rami," which has reached the age of 51 years and his son Rami, confiscating all materials belonging to the military battalions, which are special materials and manufacturing military prepared to resist the occupation only. "

The battalions that Abu Rami and his son as the rest of the sons had been taken to open centres of torture and humiliation of the militias of Hamas and exposed to the kinds of torment to show hatred for all that Hamas is the container after the spectre of humiliation and psychological torture was tragic and that do not only how to hate the militias Hamas shaved hair and Shanab, "Abu Rami" Hamas to prove that war is only the sons of the Fatah movement, while the occupying enjoy peace of mind for 60 years awaited "

It condemned the campaign Ahamsawiyeh battalions against the opening at a time when the struggle of our people forces of injustice and aggression of Zion is built fever and their entity at the expense of the blood of our people and our holy At the time of confiscating land in the West Bank and shed the blood of our people and confiscated thousands of acres for the wall and suffering from the bitterness of our search for a summit Eisha comes to the fierce campaign against the sons of Fatah in Gaza after the bombing targeted a group calculated on Hamas, who was convicted of the Fatah movement before everyone on the grounds that they did not work in the lexicon of heroes and gave themselves to God and cheap.
Oh well, time to get back to work in the lexicon of heroes.

Why are the Arabs not funding the PA?

On Sunday, the Washington Post reported that Arab pledges to the Palestinian Authority have, by and large, not been paid:
Out of 22 Arab nations that made pledges, only three -- Algeria, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates -- have contributed funds this year, while oil-rich countries such as Libya, Kuwait and Qatar have sent nothing and still owe the Palestinian government more than $700 million in past-due pledges.
The WaPo implies that Arabs refuse to fund the PA may be because the PA is not adequately radical:
The situation is deeply frustrating to U.S. and Palestinian officials, especially because the aid spigot appeared to turn off after the collapse of a unity government that had included Hamas, which the United States considers a terrorist organization. The new government is headed by moderate Palestinian leaders who favor peace talks with Israel. After it was formed in June 2007, it received only $73 million from Arab countries in the second half of 2007, compared with $371 million given by the Arabs to the unity government in the first half of the year.

One senior U.S. official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of diplomatic sensitivities, said that Arab nations could be doing much more to support the peace process launched at a conference in Annapolis last year and that "their effort falls short in every category." He said he is puzzled by their failure to meet their pledges in a period of phenomenal oil wealth.

"The one thing I find hard to explain is why they don't contribute more financially," the official said, noting that the Palestinian government is "really operating hand-to-mouth." He added that more than 50 percent of the money goes to the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by Hamas, so even people living under Hamas rule are suffering from the Arab failure to pay pledges.
This US official is making the assumption that the Arab regimes want to fund Hamas and not fund the PA, but that analysis doesn't work either....except, possibly, in the case of Qatar:
One country, Qatar, appeared to cut off all funding to the Palestinian Authority once Hamas seized Gaza and the unity government collapsed. Qatar, where some top Hamas officials own homes, had tried to mediate between Hamas and the Fatah faction headed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Qatar had dramatically increased its contributions when Hamas was in the government, after years of providing little or no money.

The real reason is given later on in the article:
Arab diplomats, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said there is little trust that the Palestinian Authority will use their contributions wisely, even though Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad is a veteran of the International Monetary Fund and, during his time as finance minister, introduced new standards of accountability and financial management. Arab diplomats said they also resent the tight grip that Israel has maintained on the Palestinian territories during the peace talks.

"Most of them make the pledges reluctantly, on the basis that the United States wanted them to do it," said Shibley Telhami, the Anwar Sadat professor for peace and development at the University of Maryland. "There is frustration that nothing is happening in the peace process, and so they would be throwing good money after bad."
This is the crux of the issue, one that the US, EU and media just can't figure out:

The rich Arab oil barons do not consider the PA to be a good investment.

Even though oil prices have gone up sixfold in the past six years, that it not the issue for the Gulf nations: it is that there is little chance that anything is going to change. Hamas and Fatah remain split and there cannot be a comprehensive peace agreement between Israel and the PA while Hamas controls Gaza.

As the article mentions, some Arab states do directly fund things like ambulances and schools. But they see no reason to throw money at the bloated PA payroll where "security officers" sit around and do nothing and the PA continues to pay even their employees in Gaza who cannot work under Hamas.

When people invest money, even to charities, they want to get as much bang for the buck as possible. This is why Bill Gates spends more of his foundation's money on preventive vaccines rather than on hospitals - a few dollars invested wisely today can save many thousands in the future.

The Arab nations know the mentality of the Palestinian Arabs better than the West. They have already spent money, time and rhetoric on the PA. They have seen the Palestinian Arab leadership consistently shoot itself in the foot rather than act pragmatically and in ways that are best for the PalArabs themselves.

They have had enough.

The Arab nations see what all their efforts and money have bought them. They will publicly blame Israel, as always, but their true attitudes can be seen in their wallets. They'd rather buy New York real estate than help their Palestinian Arab "brothers" because these brothers have wasted their money in the past and will continue to do so. Rather than compromise and start building a real state, a real economy and creating real jobs, the PalArabs remain stuck in their welfare mentality, railing at the world for not doing enough for them while they do nothing for themselves.

When will the West demand real accountability from the PA as well?

Diplomatic anecdote

From TNR, by :
I was 25 years old, downtown-bound on the four train, when I recognized a girl further down the subway car. It's hard to say why--it wasn't romantic, and I'm not a big subway talker--but I found myself walking toward her. I had a secret.

Although I lived and worked in New York City, this woman--I'll call her Heather--was one of the few Americans I interacted with during the course of a typical workday. While in law school, I had applied for an internship at the Israeli U.N. Mission. Instead, despite not even being Israeli, I was offered a full-time job as the Mission's speechwriter. I spent my evenings in law school, my nights frequenting bars with my American friends, my weekends playing softball in Central Park--and my days engaged in diplomatic warfare with half of the Arab world.

One of the perks of being a U.N. "diplomat" was free lunchtime language lessons, and I elected to take Arabic. I chose it simply because it seemed interesting, and at the time I was naïve enough not to anticipate that someone from the Israeli delegation taking Arabic classes at the U.N. might encounter some awkwardness. When the course started, I found that--save a couple of Scandinavians and Heather--everyone else served on delegations that refused to speak to Israel: Malaysia, Pakistan, Iran.

We all wore U.N. passes listing our countries, but I would tuck mine behind my tie, turn it backwards, or push it beneath my suit jacket. I wouldn't blame Israelis for finding that unfair or cowardly, but all I was trying to do was study a language, and I didn't relish the idea of bringing international politics into it. In truth, I was tired of international politics. I'm actually from Toronto, and had barely spent any time in Israel, but when I was at the U.N., the tag around my neck made it impossible for certain other diplomats to interact with me. During tedious meetings, I would sometimes amuse myself by looking in the direction of the Syrian or Lebanese diplomats just to see the efforts they would make to avoid eye contact with the Zionist entity.

Once, I was sitting alone at Israel's seat at a U.N. committee, and because of the absence of the Irish delegation, Iran was slated to sit directly beside me. When they broke U.N. protocol by refusing to do so, I mentioned it to my Israeli superiors. Accustomed to U.N. dynamics, they jokingly suggested that Iran had no problem sitting beside Israel, and simply didn't want to sit beside me.
The article goes on to have a somewhat happier ending.

Israeli actor playing Saddam in BBC drama

From Reuters:
The Israeli actor playing Saddam Hussein in a new television series once narrowly escaped a missile fired by the late dictator's army.

But for Igal Naor, taking the lead role in "House of Saddam", the BBC/HBO dramatisation of Saddam's 24-year rule airing in Britain from Wednesday, it was not about revenge.

Instead, the 50-year-old from near Tel Aviv believes his experience of the conflicts and complexities of the Middle East, and his childhood effectively raised as an Arab in Israel after his family left Baghdad, gave him the edge over other actors.

"In the street everyone spoke Iraqi. It was a 'little Baghdad' around Tel Aviv," he said of the neighbourhood where he grew up that was dominated by Iraqi Jews who left Baghdad after Israel's founding 60 years ago.

"I could understand much better than, say, a British actor or an American actor about what this man is and the environment he was living in," Naor told Reuters by telephone.

"This is my area, the Middle East, Iraq. I can understand things like the special need for honour, pride. I live in an environment of war and blood."

He recalled how a missile fired by Iraq at Israel in 1991, during the first Gulf War triggered by Saddam's invasion of Kuwait, landed close by.

"As an Israeli, he was an enemy," Naor explained. "In 1991 a missile he sent to Tel Aviv fell 50 metres from my house with one tonne of explosives. Luckily nothing happened to us."

Nevertheless, he added: "I didn't love him or hate him."

Naor, who has appeared in Hollywood movies "Munich" and "Rendition", rejected the idea that casting an Israeli as Saddam should be seen as controversial.

"We are actors, we are artists. Why should we be Israelis, Lebanese or Egyptian?"

Although he encountered no negative feedback at home, there was a backlash against him, and more particularly his co-star Amr Waked, in Waked's native Egypt, he added.

Reuters of course doesn't expand on this last point. From Variety last year:
Egypt's Actors Union, which opposes normalization of ties with Israel, is furious and says Waked now faces being banned from ever filming in Egypt again.

"The position of the union is clear in its rejection of normalization and requires that members abide by this position," declared Ashraf Zaki, chairman of the union.

"He will be facing an investigation as soon as he returns," Zaki added. Waked is in Tunisia for the shooting of the drama, "Between Two Rivers," which is backed by the British Broadcasting Corporation and HBO.

The actor has defended his position, telling Egyptian papers he did not know an Israeli was involved. Furthermore, he told the Egyptian Mail, the film is pro-Arab and criticizes US foreign policy.

He has made it clear he has no intention of leaving the series, in which he plays Hussein Kamel, Saddam's son-in-law who fled from Iraq to Jordan but eventually returned and was executed.

Were he to quit now, the actor said, he would be in breach of his contract.

Notice how bold Waked is in the face of criticism: first he says he didn't know, then he says the film is critical of the US and finally he falls back on not wanting to breach his contract.

Outside of that, he fully supports the Egyptian actors' boycott of Israel.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Another meme

I would like to thank LindaSoG for listing me as one of her seven favorite blogs in this latest "Blogger Challenge" meme.

I generally do not pass these sorts of things on, because in my opinion they are just social computer viruses. However, it has made me realize something interesting:

I have really been avoiding reading too many other blogs.

While there are many excellent blogs that I enjoy reading when I see them, there are very few that I make a habit of reading, unless I really cannot find anything original to blog about (hence my occasional Links posts.) With what spare time I have, I prefer to pore over Arabic autotranslated sites or obscure Google News queries to find stories that others miss.

That being said, here's how I would answer - although I don't think anyone will be surprised:

Soccer Dad, who amazes me with his memory and ability to grab articles from everywhere to support his themes, all while giving a great analysis. Not to mention his very accomplished co-bloggers, Daled Amos and Judeopundit.

Israellycool, where I co-blog. Aussie Dave is informative and amusing.

Treppenwitz, who is not only a great blogger but also a great writer.

Shrinkwrapped, a psychologist who does a fair amount of analysis of the Arab and terrorist psyches.

Israel Matzav, who is essentially a one-man liveblogger of anything that happens in Israel.

Augean Stables always has great, well-thought out posts.

And my last entry will be three blogs that are associated with organizations rather than people: Contentions at Commentary Magazine, the MEMRI Blog and Backspin from Honest Reporting.

That poll of UK Muslim students

There has been a bit of news in the past couple of days about a poll taken of Muslim students in Great Britain:
ALMOST a third of British Muslim students believe killing in the name of Islam can be justified, according to a poll.

The study also found that two in five Muslims at university support the incorporation of Islamic sharia codes into British law.

The YouGov poll for the Centre for Social Cohesion (CSC) will raise concerns about the extent of campus radicalism. “Significant numbers appear to hold beliefs which contravene democratic values,” said Hannah Stuart, one of the report’s authors. “These results are deeply embarrassing for those who have said there is no extremism in British universities.”

The report was criticised by the country’s largest Muslim student body, Fosis, but Anthony Glees, professor of security and intelligence studies at Buckingham University, said: “The finding that a large number of students think it is okay to kill in the name of religion is alarming.

In addition to its poll of 1,400 Muslim and non Muslim students, the centre visited more than 20 universities to interview students and listen to guest speakers. It found that extremist preachers regularly gave speeches that were inflammatory, homophobic or bordering on antisemitic.

The researchers highlighted Queen Mary college, part of London University, as a campus where radical views were widely held. Last December, a speaker named Abu Mujahid encouraged Muslim students to condemn gays because “Allah hates” homosexuality. In November, Azzam Tamimi, a British-based supporter of Hamas, described Israel as the most “inhumane project in the modern history of humanity”.

James Brandon, deputy director at CSC , said: “Our researchers found a ghettoised mentality among Muslim students at Queen Mary. Also, we found the segregation between Muslim men and women at events more visible at Queen Mary.”
Predictably, Muslim student associations in Britain reacted furiously:
Britain's main students groups have disparaged a report by a right-wing group claiming that a third of Muslim students believe killings can be justified in the name of Islam.

"This report is a reflection of the biases and prejudices of a right wing think tank - not the views of Muslim students across Britain," Wes Streeting, president of the National Union of Students (NUS), said in a statement on Sunday, July 27.

"It is a willful misrepresentation of the views of Muslim students designed to create as sensational a picture as possible.

"It can serve only to generate a climate of fear on campuses."

"The report is methodologically weak," Faisal Hanjra, president of the Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS), said in a statement.

FOSIS said the report was part of attempts to undermine efforts by Muslim groups to fight extremism in Britain.

"It is unrepresentative and above all serves only to undermine the positive work carried out by Islamic Societies across the country," it stressed.
It is most interesting that FOSIS pretends that it is doing positive work and that it is fighting extremism, because the report itself shows where FOSIS supports terror:
FOSIS – and by extension ISOCs – also enjoy strong ties with the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB), widely considered a British branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.

A 2005 FOSIS publication claims these links help to foster greater tolerance
within such organisations:

“The involvement of many former FOSIS activists has helped in establishing an inclusive and broad-based ethos within other organisations such as the Muslim Association of Britain and the Muslim Council of Britain.”

However, FOSIS and its constituent Islamic societies regularly book MAB leaders
and activists, many of whom publicly support the Muslim Brotherhood, to speak
on university campuses. One such speaker, Azzam Tamimi, a Hamas supporter,
said in a BBC interview in 2006, “if I can go to Palestine and sacrifice myself I
would do it.”

FOSIS provides ISOCs with literature – Freshers and Dawah packs, leaflets on Islamophobia and pamphlets on political issues such as Palestine, Kashmir and Iraq
– many of which are published by Friends of Al-Aqsa, a lobby group campaigning
against alleged human rights abuses by Israel that advocates the creation of a single
Palestinian state to replace Israel and the Palestinian Territories. Leaflets produced
by Friends of Al-Aqsa include “Israeli War Crimes” and “Israeli Apartheid Policies”,
and much of the literature calls for a boycott of Israeli products and academic institutions.

Founded in 1997, Friends of Al-Aqsa’s stated goals include “defending the human
rights of Palestinians and protecting the sacred al-Aqsa Sanctuary in Jerusalem.”
Ismail Patel, the current leader of Friends of Al-Aqsa, has said that the group aims
“to raise awareness of the Palestinians’ sufferings and dispel the notion that Hamas
is barbaric, and that it cannot be dealt with.”

Patel is a regular spokesman for the British Muslim Initiative (BMI), founded
in 2006 by prominent members of the MAB – the Muslim Brotherhood’s British
franchise. Patel also sits on the advisory board of the Conflicts Forum, a pressure
group that promotes the Muslim Brotherhood to policy-makers in the West, and is
a director of IslamExpo.

Speaking at an event in November 2007 organised by the University of Manchester
Palestinian society, Patel argued that a Palestinian state could only exist at the
expense of the Jewish one.

At the same event, Patel pledged his support for Hamas, the militant Palestinian wing of the Muslim Brotherhood designated a terrorist organisation by the United States, the UK and the European Union. Answering an audience question about his views on Hamas, Patel said: “I think [Hamas] is one of the noblest resistance movements I’ve come across.”
The report itself seems to have a sound methodology, and it describes it in detail. Unlike the characterization of the report given by the Muslim groups, it is quite fair and it shows a deep divide between the generally more active Muslim students - who tend to be more radical and extremist - with the more moderate ones. In most polling questions the "extreme" and "moderate" positions are roughly equal, and the "extreme" positions are far more prevalent among members of Islamic student groups.

So rather than attacking Muslims, this report really attacks the ideology of the many Islamic student groups that it documents as supporting terror. And the criticisms by those same student groups have no basis in fact.

Guess who Pakistan is accusing of terrorism?

Go on, take a guess.

From Palestine Today (autotranslated):
The Pakistani intelligence service accused the Israeli Mossad intelligence agency and the Indian and the Afghan intelligence services of cooperating together to destabilize the security of Pakistan.

According to Pakistani intelligence, the Indian intelligence and the Mossad were planning and organizing terrorist operations against the Pakistani army deployed on the Pakistani - Indian border and other terrorist operations from the territory of Kashmir and within Pakistan.

Pakistani intelligence accused Indian intelligence and the Mossad of being behind the recent terrorist operations that took place inside Pakistan which killed a number of victims and injured dozens of Pakistani nationals.
Yes, the Mossad clearly has interest in destabilizing Pakistan so that nuclear-armed state can be taken over by Islamists.

Freedom of the press, Hamas-style

For the second day in a row, Hamas has confiscated all of the West Bank newspapers delivered to Gaza: al-Hayat al-Jadida, al-Quds and al-Ayyam.

Hamas is still saying that Fatah is responsible for the Friday bombings that killed five of its members and it does not want Gazans to see Fatah's denials, and especially evidence and accusations that the blast was because of Hamas infighting.

Hamas had already raided and destroyed the offices of the Fatah-based WAFA news agency in Gaza over the weekend.

Meanwhile, both Hamas and Fatah continue to arrest members of the other organizations in Gaza and the West Bank, respectively.

Hamas using "calm" cement for bunkers

One of the major items that Israel had not allowed into Gaza before the current "calm" was cement. Human rights organizations and others complained bitterly about how this cement shortage was affecting Gazans' lives.

So now that Israel has allowed many truckfuls of cement into Gaza, what is happening to it?

Everything that goes into Gaza, either from Egyptian tunnels or from Israel, gets taken by Hamas. Hamas takes everything it needs first and then places the rest on the market, heavily taxing it to ensure that the "international boycott" against that terror organization is meaningless.

Cement is a major item that Hamas covets. As the Shin Bet's Yuval Diskin testified yesterday, Hamas is using the cement it is receiving to build fortified bunkers and tunnels to transport and store weapons.

This is not just Israeli propaganda. Even last January, when Hamas breached the wall to Egypt, it was reported that Hamas was taking delivery of hundreds of bags of cement to build bunkers and tunnels.

And since the story of Israel cruelly blocking shipments of concrete from poor starving Gazans is so much more compelling than that of Hamas taking the concrete from those same citizens for aggressive purposes, the media and world community yawns. Human rights organizations are silent and the UN, which just last week said that the "calm" has not helped Gazans in their daily lives, wholly blames Israel.

Big surprise there.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Saudi grand mufti condemns Turkish soap operas

We've mentioned before how crazy the Arab world has gone over a Turkish soap opera dubbed in Arabic named "Noor."

Well, the Saudi grand mufti has decided enough is enough:
The grand mufti of Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh, has condemned Turkish soap operas, which have charmed millions of people across the Arab world, and prohibited people from watching them, Al-Watan daily reported yesterday.

“It is not permitted to look at these serials or watch them. They contain so much evil; they destroy people’s ethics and are against our values,” said the mufti during the closing ceremony of a forum, which took place in Riyadh on Friday. He added that these “malicious” Turkish soap operas corrupt individuals and spread vice in society.

“Any TV station that airs them is against God and His Messenger (peace be upon him). These are serials of immorality. They are prepared by people who are specialists in crime and error, people who invite men and women to the devil.”

Al-Asheikh was referring to two Turkish soap operas, “Noor” and “Lost Years,” which have become extremely popular in the Arab world over the last couple of months. The soaps are dubbed in colloquial Syrian Arabic and are currently being shown on channels run by the MBC Group.

The soaps are proving such a big draw in the Kingdom that many people plan their day around the programs, which have also become popular dinner table conversation.

According to mbc.net, “Noor” has become “a turning point in the lives of its Arab audience and the way Arabs view Turkish dramas.”

“The TV series is awaited daily by millions of eager Arab viewers from the Atlantic to the Gulf who follow the latest developments in Muhannad and Noor’s love story. It has opened the door for Arab viewers, especially since it contains an area of romance, which Arabic dramas have recently lacked,” says MBC’s webpage.

Maha Al-Hujailan, a Saudi columnist and a medical researcher at King Khaled University Hospital in Riyadh, wrote that the women’s attachment to male characters in “Noor” and “Lost Years” cannot just be attributed to their good looks.

“What really attracts women and gets them attached to these characters is the romance and the way they show their genuine love to their loved ones... Saudi women miss something important in their men: the feeling of love and security,” wrote Al-Hujailan.

A Saudi grandmother in her mid-70s told Arab News that, although she usually watches Arabic dramas, “Noor” has turned her life upside down.

“I couldn’t sleep the night when Noor was kidnapped. Her image haunted me. I just want to see what is at the end,” she said.

Al Watan recently reported that the number of Saudi women naming their children after characters in these two soap operas have skyrocketed.

More "Noor" news can be seen at MBC.net's Noor page, where they happily cite articles that are even critical of the show.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Peaceful PalArab weekend (UPDATED)

After yesterday's series of bombings, including the beachfront bomb that killed 5 Hamas terrorists having a picnic and a seven year old girl, Hamas has been keen to blame Fatah while Fatah is blaming internal Hamas infighting.

That doesn't stop Palestinian Arab columnists from blaming - all together now - The Jooooos!

Hamas held a series of raids today against Fatah, and also shot and seriously injured Fatah Sheikh Imad Khalil with nine bullets to the pelvis.

Hamas claims to have confiscated a large number of Fatah explosives and weapons, and they also raided some Fatah charities as well as the official Fatah WAFA news agency.

Meanwhile, an unknown group claimed responsibility for the Friday morning Internet cafe bombing that accidentally killed the bomber himself, saying that they were trying to rid Gaza of vice and adultery.

UPDATE: Looks like Fatah is retaliating - by arresting pro-Hamas journalists in the West Bank.

Also, Hamas had arrested a journalist for a German news agency, Sawwah Abu Seif. Funny how that has not stirred up a big stink.

A man died from wounds in a clan clash a few days ago.

Hamas continues to arrest every suspected Fatah person they can find, now going after student committees in Al Azhar University.

Hamas is also fighting the Army of Islam, and there have been at least 6 injuries on both sides in clashes.

A Hamas newspaper is claiming that Egypt arrested three Gazans trying to infiltrate - who admitted that they were from Fatah and admitted involvement in Friday's bombing. No confirmation from anyone else yet.

The 2008 PalArab self-death count is now 123.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Five more killed in a new Gaza blast

YNet (h/t Soccer Dad):

A bomb exploded at a major junction in the Gaza Strip on Friday, killing four Palestinians including Amar Masbach, a senior member of Hamas' Izz al-Din al-Qassam military wing. Notably, Masbach survived an Israeli assassination attempt last year, after elite troops attempted to kill him in the Strip.

Two other Hamas men were killed in the blast, including Iyad al-Haya, the cousin of senior Hamas figure Khalil al-Haya. A girl who happened to be in the area was also killed. More than 15 people were wounded in the explosion, west of Gaza City. The blast is believed to be related to intra-Palestinian tensions.

The circumstances of the blast were not immediately clear. According to one report, the explosion occurred while the two Hamas men were carrying explosive devices. A gas tank was apparently found in their vehicle. However, another possibility is that the blast was a deliberate attack on Hamas members.

Firas lists 5 dead.

The 2008 PalArab self-death count is now at 121.

UPDATE: The death toll is now 5 Hamas members and one girl. 122.

The wonderful illogic of Matthias Klein

In a Comment is Free piece in The Guardian, Matthias Klein argues that it is counterproductive for the UK to publicly declare Hezbollah to be a terrorist organization.

In the amazing logic of the Left, his argument is roughly this: Since in the pro-terror world of Hezbollah and their friends it is considered a badge of honor to be vilified by the West, and conversely it is considered awful to be friendy with the West, then any Western vilification of Arab terror groups makes them stronger.

As usual, the argument is high on cleverness and low on common sense. While indeed Nasrallah said that this classification was a "badge of honor," we have seen pro-terror groups use the prestige that comes with being treated with respect by the West in an exactly similar manner.

In other words, Klein naively assumes that Nasrallah is telling the truth when he says that he is happy.

It never seems to occur to him that, perhaps, the reason to label Hezbollah as terrorist is because they are, in fact, terrorists. Klein's argument against that is that since the West is not consistent in this labeling (for example, not labeling Israel as "terrorist") then it should not label anyone - a manifestly absurd position.

The idea that coddling terrorists will take away their bite should have been discredited long ago, but to the clueless Left, this is still considered an intelligent argument.

Obama's note at the Kotel published

In a pretty tasteless move, Maariv retrieved the note that Barack Obama placed at the Kotel.


(I removed the note, as it was upsetting a number of people.)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Al Ahram prints a critical letter

Kudos to Egypt's Al Ahram for actually publishing a letter that ridicules some of its pseudo-intellectual Israel bashing:
Sir -- 'Of jackals and crocodiles' (Al-Ahram Weekly 10-16 July) regurgitates the theory that the war in Iraq was initiated for the purpose of protecting Israel or, in any case, that Israel played a "leading role" in the war.

You state that Ehud Barak, Israel's minister of defence, is part of a government that is "largely funded and sustained by the US government". Israel's annual gross domestic product is over $130 billion and it receives $3 billion in aid annually from the US. In other words, US aid is insignificant in the context of the size of Israel's economy. Aside from being factually inaccurate, you would like us to draw the inference that Israel's aggressive lobbyists in the US are responsible for this largess and that their talents of persuasion were also put to work in manipulating the US government into deciding to invade Iraq. If Israel is so weak as to require "sustenance" from the US (i.e. support without which it would collapse), how in the world could it compel the US to enter into a $1 trillion war?

My intent here is to point out the internal inconsistencies in your thinking and, unfortunately, many others in the Middle East. Rather than face the realities of the backwardness of Arab politics and economics, you prefer to see their woes as being the result of a colonialist implant on the Middle East (Israel) which, if not for the support of the master imperialist power (or the Great Satan, if you prefer), would be blown away like so many grains of sand in the wind of jihad. However, this would leave the Israelis/Jews looking like pathetic puppets rather than the omnipotent Machiavellian conspirators that Arabs know them to be.

Where is the evidence that Israel is "directly and indirectly responsible for a large share of the war efforts"? Despite providing no money, troops or logistics for the Iraq war, Israel is accused of playing a big part in the planning and implementation of US policy. All we get in support of this are a few quotes from people uninvolved in the war and a report of Israeli operatives in Kurdistan. Yes, no doubt Israeli military intelligence shared their findings with the US, but it was American military intelligence that manipulated the data, not Israel. In fact, many or even most senior Israeli military officials were not in favour of the war in Iraq. The reason: Iran was and is the greatest threat to Israel and, as is now obvious, to weaken Iraq is to strengthen Iran. That the war was not in Israel's interests is implied by the Seymour Hersh story cited in yours. Moreover, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld planned and ran the war on their own (maybe with a little help from George Bush) and, unfortunately, were completely unsusceptible to outside advice or influence.

There are many reasons why the US (and the rest of the West, for the most part) and Israel are allies, but the main one is that today they see the world in the same way. The path forward is through economic growth and liberal democracy; fantasy and fanaticism will leave Arabs forever on the wrong side of the separation wall.

Jacques Cousineau
Paris
France

Internet cafe blown up in Gaza, two dead

There have been plenty of attacks on places that the Islamists don't like but this is the first fatal attack in recent memory in Gaza. From Firas (autotranslated):
An explosion had taken place a short time ago in a cybercafe in western Gaza. Unknown attackers blew up the cafe, which led to the death of a citizen and injuring a number of citizens with various injuries.

Palestine Press reports that two were killed in the explosion, and that there was a second bomb within ten minutes of this one that targeted a Hamas leader in Gaza. There were also reports of "violent clashes" in another section of Gaza City.

I'll wait for verification that the second person died, so for now the 2008 PalArab self-death count is at 116.

UPDATE:
PalPress also reports that Hamas stormed Al Azhar University and tore down posters of Yassir Arafat.

Another case of ethnic cleansing of Jews (1898)

From the New York Times, describing an event in Eastern Palestine/Syria in 1898.


Do they have a "right of return?"

"I'm Muslim and hate Jews"

From The Calgary Sun:
Attacking a Jewish girl and the friends who came to her rescue has landed a Muslim man a one-year jail sentence.

Mustafa Taj must also serve a year of probation following his release for what provincial court Judge Bill Cummings ruled was a racially motivated assault.

"In this case, I'm satisfied that imprisonment is necessary," Cummings said in accepting the Crown's bid for a jail term.

Prosecutors Ken McCaffrey and Inayat Jetha had sought a sentence of up to two years for the hate crime.

Taj, 21, was convicted in May of attacking four teenagers the night of Nov. 3, 2006, while they waited for a C-Train at the Sunnyside LRT station.

Taj approached the group around 10:45 p.m. and asked "who's Jewish." Nichola Cordato, then 16, stated "me" and Taj grabbed her and said, "I'm Muslim and hate Jews."

He then slapped her in the face and pulled her hair before her friends, Jessica Motta, Kayla Hungle and Daniel Ball attempted to intervene.

Hungle attempted to prevent Taj from further attacking Cordato and was punched in the face by him.

Motta then intervened and was punched in the face, pulled to the ground by her hair and kicked in the stomach and ribs.

When Ball tried to stop the assaults, he was thrown onto the C-Train tracks where he fell onto his back and was spat upon by Taj.

During the melee, Taj called Cordato a "Jewish piece of (crap)."

He forgot to substitute "Zionist" for Jewish. Then he would have gotten off scot-free!

300K

If it's summer, it must be time for another set of blog milestones.

Yesterday I passed 300,000 visitors and within the past two days I passed 400,000 page views, according to Statcounter.

I've also recently seemed to pass the 10,000 comment mark, which is pretty cool since I don't usually participate too much in the comment threads.

It took a little less than six months to go from 200K to 300K. My traffic keeps on steadily increasing on average; I am now averaging 588 visits per day and 755 page views per day.

Even though my traffic increase has mostly been since I have been posting links from most of my postings on Little Green Footballs, it appears that about half of my readers come here directly. Which means that there are a couple of hundred people who check this blog regularly. That is most gratifying!

My fourth blogoversary is coming up in a couple of weeks, right before the first JBlogger convention in Israel (wish I could go!), so I might be making some more reflective posts about the state of the JBlogosphere between now and then.

As always, though, I want to thank you all for coming here and participating!

More of today's PalArab press

Every day I see so many stories in the Arabic press that don't merit their own posting, but I think it is important for people to understand the stuff that goes on there. So here is Part 2 of today's PalArabic press review:

Gazans have found a new way to smuggle small items into Gaza - having friends in Egypt fly kits and attach the items to the kites. Smuggled items include plant seeds, cellular phone parts and medicines. They do this while the Egyptian guards are on break in the afternoon, as they get out of the sun when it gets too hot - which shows the level of commitment that Egyptian army guards have to their jobs.

An article decrying the practice of burqa-clad ladies showing their eyebrows. Since eyebrows are essential in that "come-hither" look, they need to be covered by the burqa.

PA PM Fayyad is considering cutting salaries across the board.

Israel today allowed 174 truckfuls of goods into Gaza as well as 80 tons of gas.

Islamic Jihad claims that Israel has violated the calm 43 times so far. They include things like overflights and Israel arresting Arabs who try to sneak into Israel.