Saturday, January 25, 2014

From Ian:

Daniel Pipes: Why the Middle East Can’t Modernize
Vast reserves of oil and gas have distorted nearly every aspect of life. Miniature medieval-style monarchies such as Qatar become surreal world powers playing at war in Libya and Syria, indifferent to the lives they break, as a vast underclass of oppressed foreign workers toils away and a princess deploys the largest budget for art purchases in human history. The privileged can indulge their cruel impulses, protected by connections and money. Sex tourism flourishes in poor countries such as India.
Efforts at democracy and political participation either wither, as in Egypt, or elevate fanatics, who intelligently disguise their purposes, as in Turkey. Efforts to overthrow greedy tyrants lead either to yet-worse ideological tyrants (as in Iran in 1979) or to anarchy (as in Libya and Yemen). One commonly roots for both sides to lose. The rule of law remains a Fata Morgana.
Islamism, currently the most dynamic and threatening political ideology, is summed up by a morbid Hamas declaration to Israelis: “We love death more than you love life.” Polygyny, burqas, genital mutilation and honor killing make Middle Eastern women the world’s most oppressed.
EXCLUSIVE: New York Times Slammed for Bias on Billboard in Front of Times Square HQ (INTERVIEW)
The New York Times was confronted on its home turf on Friday by a giant billboard in plain view of its Times Square, New York City, headquarters that accuses the media group of slanting its news against Israel.
The billboard was put up by CAMERA, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, and will be up for the next six months.
It reads: “Would a great newspaper slant the news against Israel? The New York Times does.
Scarlett Johansson responds to SodaStream criticism
American actress Scarlett Johansson released a statement Friday about the controversy surrounding her role as the first-ever brand ambassador of the Israeli company SodaStream, describing the firm as “building a bridge to peace between Israel and Palestine,” and making clear that she would not stepping away from it. Her public comments were made after she came under fire for the endorsement deal — which is to include a TV ad screened during the Super Bowl — from the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement.
“While I never intended on being the face of any social or political movement, distinction, separation or stance as part of my affiliation with SodaStream, given the amount of noise surrounding that decision, I’d like to clear the air,” Johansson’s statement, published by The Huffington Post.



Oxfam Conflicted by Pressure to Drop Great Fundraiser Johansson
Scarlett visited Dadaab, Kenya, the largest refugee camp in the world, representing Oxfam International. She is one of their best rainmakers – and now they might have to give her up because she promotes Jewish seltzer.
Now for a surprise video: actress and environmentalist Susan Sarandon at the International Housewares Association Home and Housewares show in Chicago in 2011, promoting SodaStream. How embarrassing.
Richard Millett Arab Israeli lecturer visits London, condemns “Judaisation” of Israel
I lost count how many times Dr Rass used “Judaisation” or “Judaising” to accuse Israel of nefariously attempting to make Israeli places like the Galilee, Nazareth and the Negev majority Jewish areas to the detriment of Israel’s Arab citizens already living there.
One has to ask the question, if “Islamisation” is considered offensive then why is “Judaisation” considered not offensive?
Meanwhile, one has to strongly doubt whether the Bedouin will be happy to be considered Palestinian by both Dr Rass and the Centre for Palestine Studies. The Bedouin seem to have a completely different culture, history and relationship with Israel than the Palestinians do. But Dr Rass described the Bedouin last night as “part of the Palestinian people”.
NYC mayor, in AIPAC speech, vows to defend Israel
At a closed-door AIPAC function in New York, de Blasio, who succeeded Michael Bloomberg less than a month ago, said he felt a part of his job description was “to be a defender of Israel.”
Addressing the pro-Israel lobby in what some media outlets termed a “secret” speech, de Blasio said his belief in Israel and the United States’ obligation to defend it not only had “a philosophical grounding,” but was also “something that is elemental to being an American.”
Hamas-affiliated "Palestinian Return Center" seeks UN NGO accreditation
At the NGO Committee meeting on January 22, 2014 the Palestinian Return Center was asked by the Israeli member of the UN NGO Committee "whether it respected Israel's territorial integrity." The question attempted to determine whether the NGO satisfied the number one requirement for accreditation, namely, respect for and adherence to the UN Charter. The Center representative replied: "it was not the Center's place or right to recognize or not recognize Israel." That would be the UN member state of Israel. Obviously, this response and this NGO's previous activities should disqualify it from membership.
Equally obvious, despite the fact that its application was deferred for the moment, is that sooner or later it will be accredited.
Obama and Kerry’s Lobby in Israel
In the course of the past month, a persistent campaign appears to have been taking place, away from public attention, to change the thinking of Israel’s defense establishment. The State Department’s special envoy to the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, Martin Indyk, and his officials have been meeting with a number of Israeli security personnel and IDF generals to discuss their thinking on future Israeli territorial compromise. Indyk, who was also part of Middle East peace negotiations under President Clinton, has reportedly been seeking to convince Israel’s defense officials of the wisdom of plans that would seek to bring about a full Israeli withdrawal from such key strategic areas as the Jordan Valley. To be sure, these lobbying efforts are not being focused on Israeli parliamentarians, but they aim to impact the position of a constituency no less politically decisive.
Netanyahu: I Will Not Evict Israelis from the Jordan Valley
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu made it clear on Friday that he will not evict any Israeli communities in the Jordan Valley as part of a future agreement with the Palestinian Authority (PA).
"I have said it before and I repeat it today: I'm not going to evict a single community, I am not going to uproot any Israeli from his home,” Netanyahu said at a press conference following his meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos.
Livni lambastes Abbas’s ‘unacceptable positions’
Speaking in an interview with Channel 2, Israel’s chief negotiator with the Palestinians said Abbas’s offers were “not only unacceptable to us but to the whole world, and if he continues to stick to them, then the Palestinians will be the ones to pay the price.”
Abbas has recently stated that no peace agreement would be possible without East Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital, has staunchly refused to recognize Israel’s self-definition as the state of the Jewish people, and has demanded the right of return for Palestinian refugees and their descendants to Israel proper.
‘Saddam gave orders to fire chemical weapons at Tel Aviv if he was toppled in First Gulf War’
According to the report, Hussein dispersed missiles armed with chemical weapons at bases across the country and gave orders to have them launched at the Jewish state should his regime collapse or he be cut off from his general staff. The list of strategic Israeli targets was drawn up and included, curiously, Haifa’s leading high-tech university, The Technion.
A professor from the university recounted in the report that a Jordanian official who visited the school told him that Saddam insisted the Technion be added to the list of strategic targets because a teacher at the school had spoken ill of him.
White House slams Syria for possible murders, remains silent on Iran’s aid
Carney’s refusal to link Iran to Syria reflects the administration’s efforts to minimize the extended low-scale war that Iran has waged on the United States since the Islamic theocracy seized power in 1979.
“Our best chance of seeing a decent outcome [in Syria] at this point is to work the state actors who have invested so much in keeping Assad in power—mainly the Iranians and the Russians” he told the New Yorker magazine.
Netanyahu: Iran has spent $160 billion on nuclear weapons drive
Referring to Rouhani’s speech in Davos on Thursday, Netanyahu was witheringly critical: “He said they have no intention to develop nuclear weapons. Come on. Does anybody really believe that? Does anybody really think that? They’re investing these tens of billions. By our estimation, they have invested $160-170 billion dollars. What for? To develop medical isotopes to despatch on ballistic missiles to sick Iranians orbiting the Earth? Of course they intend to develop nuclear weapons.”
Sudan's connection to Syria's WMDs
This is not like a chemical munition that detonates and is contained and dissipates. Biological weapons in Sudan and the training of Hezbollah's forces at camps in the north are a serious and real-time danger to international health and security. War-torn countries such as Syria and Sudan pose significant risks in terms of command and control over WMD arsenals. While we might applaud the nonproliferation groups for finally begrudgingly acknowledging that Syria had a chemical weapons program, which forced the disposal of Assad's chemical arsenal, Assad has managed to keep his far more valuable biological weapons complex intact.
Divided Egypt marks 3rd anniversary of uprising
The starkly contrasting scenes reflected the three years of turmoil that have split Egyptians into polarized camps since the revolt that began on Jan. 25, 2011, ousting autocratic leader Hosni Mubarak — followed by last summer’s millions-strong demonstrations against Mubarak’s elected successor, Islamist Mohammed Morsi, that led to the coup removing him.
Morsi’s supporters were using Saturday’s anniversary to build new momentum in defiance to the military and its political transition plan, despite being hit by a crippling police crackdown and rising public resentment against the group. At least eight people were killed around the country as police descended on their protests, firing tear gas and shooting in the air.
Violence was heaviest in the provinces. A car bomb exploded outside a security camp in the city of Suez, where gunmen clashed with police, firing at some from nearby rooftops, witnesses said. Nine civilians were wounded in the bombing.
Pigs’ heads sent to Israel embassy, synagogue in Rome
ROME — Boxes containing pigs’ heads were sent to the Israeli embassy in Rome and the city’s synagogue, Italian media reported Saturday.
The package mailed to the embassy in the wealthy Parioli area of the Italian capital was intercepted by police after other similar parcels were sent to the synagogue and the Jewish Museum of Rome, which is hosting an exhibit on the Holocaust.
The threats came days ahead of the International Commemoration Day in memory of the victims of the Holocaust on Monday, January 27. More Pictures (h/t Bob Knot)
If Mohamed Salah is not an antisemite Abramovic can get him to prove it
Mohamed Salah is an Egyptian footballer who has just signed for Chelsea - a club owned by Roman Abramovic - for £11 million. The English sports media this morning is covering this story with headlines like "Salah: I am not an antisemite". Of course, Salah is not an antisemite. Like most Muslim non-antisemites he does not explicitly hate all 'Jews', only 'Jews who believe they have a right to their historical homeland', i.e.'Zionists'.
In August 2013 Salah's team Basel FC were drawn against Maccabi Tel-Aviv in a champions league qualifier**. In the home tie Salah refused to shake the hands of the Israeli team, which is a remarkable achievement given that the EUFA protocol requires the home team to line up while the away team walks along the line shaking each hand. Salah managed to 'avoid this' by going to the touchline, pretending to tie up his shoe laces. He also refused to shake hands with any Maccabi players after the game, which Basel won 1-0. After the match Salah announced he would refuse to play in the return leg in Israel.
Israel to Launch First Civilian Satellite Into Orbit in 2015
Israel will launch its first civilian satellite into orbit in December 2015, Israel Space Agency Chairman Maj. Gen. (res) Yitzhak Ben Israel said Thursday, Israel Hayom reported.
The Venus Vegetation and Environment Monitoring New Microsatellite program was the joint project of the Israel Space Agency (ISA) and French space agency Centre national d’études spatiales.
From the Russian paratroopers to the Golani Brigade
Meet Daniel (Stas) Shapira, a 25-year-old from the outskirts of Siberia who, after fighting for a year as a Russian paratrooper on the Chechnyan border and completing his law degree, decided to leave everything -- family, friends and work -- to make aliyah and enlist in the Israel Defense Forces Golani Brigade.
On Thursday, Shapira stood with his fellow Golani cadets and swore an oath of loyalty to Israel and the IDF. "I was born in a small town in Siberia, and my dad passed away when I was six," Stas said. "My mother made aliyah with me and my sister, but after half a year we returned to Russia. That was my first exposure to Israel and it left a mark on me."
Israel Daily Picture: The Children of the Western Wall 100+ Years Ago
Scores of century-old pictures of the Western Wall have appeared in Israel Daily Picture. Known as the Wailing Wall, the Kotel HaMaaravi, or the Jews' Wailing Place, the prayer site was the focus of every photographer in Jerusalem.


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