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December 20, 2014 / 28 Kislev, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘Arab Spring’

If You Liked the Arab Spring, You’ll Love ‘Palestine’

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

The disarray, ritual violence, rancor, intermittent anarchy, and seemingly endless cycle of replacing one tyranny with another that have characterized the Arab Spring is also the predictable future for “Palestine.”

In the Islamic Middle East, the recurrent myth of “democracy” has conveniently taken on its own twisted grammar and syntax. For the most part, in this tormented and tormenting region, irony has already been upstaged by oxymoron.

Even after being awarded elevated status last year by the UN General Assembly – “Palestine” is now officially a nonmember observer state – feuding Arab authorities in the West Bank and Gaza will continue to vie viciously for consolidated national power. Here, unsurprisingly, Hamas and Fatah killers will obligingly murder and torture one another as best they can. This is what they know best. Significantly, other known or still-unknown jihadist groups will also enter the frenzied struggle for individual and group primacy.

Nonetheless, the warring factions are apt to come together intermittently on the one point of “higher philosophy” that can still bind them together. This utterly consuming worldview, of course, is a ritualized and irremediably primal hatred of Israel. This prospectively genocidal antipathy has its conceptual and historic origins in an antecedent hatred of Jews.

How little is understood in the West. Palestinian opposition to Israel has never really been about land. It has always been about religion and about corollary assurances of immortality.

What, exactly, then, can we expect from “Palestine”? One could argue, it seems, that this new Arab state will inevitably share a sort of mutual vulnerability with Israel, and that it would therefore be well advised to adhere strictly to responsible policies of protracted peace and coexistence.

In reality, however, here is what we can expect. After early episodes of intra-Arab conflict and related war crimes, periods during which time the competing Palestinian factions will fashion crisscross alignments with willing elements in other parts of the Islamic world, the crushing war against Israel will resume. Newly endowed with unprecedented geopolitical advantages against a now diminished Israeli min-state, this newest Arab state will launch substantially advanced rockets against the Jewish state. More than likely, there will be renewed attacks on Israeli schools, buses, and hospitals. After all, there will be an expectedly mad scramble to join the next blood-soaked wave of Islamic martyrs.

To respond effectively, Israel will need to rely more heavily on its capable active defenses. As long as the incoming rockets from Gaza, the West Bank, and possibly Lebanon remain entirely conventional, the inevitable “leakage” from Iron Dome and (possibly) David’s Sling (aka Magic Wand), could still be judged “acceptable.” But once these rockets are fitted with chemical and/or biological materials, such leakage could prove unacceptable.

A particularly serious security problem posed to Israel by any new state of Palestine would be one involving collaboration with Iran. Nowhere is it written that the developing Iranian nuclear threat must somehow remain strategically and tactically unrelated to a seemingly discrete Palestinian threat. Should Iran be permitted to go fully nuclear, which now seems pretty much certain, it could plan, in the future, to fire advanced ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads against Israeli cities. Operationally, this could be undertaken in managed coordination with certain non-nuclear rocket attacks, launched simultaneously from Gaza, West Bank, and/or southern Lebanon.

To meet indispensable protective objectives, Israel’s primary ballistic missile defense system, the Arrow, would require a 100 percent reliability of interception against incoming Iranian missiles.

Achieving such a level of perfect reliability, however, is technically impossible.

The core strategic problem facing Israel, therefore, is one of critical “synergies” or “force multipliers.” Working together against the Jewish state, Palestine, Iran, and assorted other enemies could quickly pose a cumulative hazard that is tangibly greater than the arithmetic sum of its component parts. Perhaps in anticipating this dire prospect, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continues to speak hopefully of a Palestinian state that would be “demilitarized.”

This expectation is naive and unsupportable. Whatever else it may have agreed to in its pre-state incarnation, any presumptively new sovereign state is entitled to “self-defense.” Under authoritative international law, this right is fundamental, immutable, and (per Art. 51 of the United Nations Charter), “inherent.” Further, to use proper terminology from the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, it is also “peremptory.”

It Was Erdoğan’s Fault

Friday, June 7th, 2013

Translated to English by Sally Zahav

For about a week now, Turkey has been in an uproar. Tens of thousands of demonstrators have burst into the streets inf almost a hundred cities all over the country, in noisy, audacious protest against the prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. A few people have been killed, about 1500 have been injured and about 2000 arrested. The spectacles from the streets of Turkey were reminiscent of the mass demonstrations of January 2011 in Tunisia that eventually caused President bin ‘Ali to flee, and in al-Tahrir Square in Cairo, which resulted  in the overthrow of Mubarak, and the demonstrations in the beginning of what was called the “Arab Spring” in Libya, Yemen, Bahrain and Syria. The question arises – is it now Turkish society’s turn to rid itself of Prime Minister Erdoğan and perhaps the religious “Justice and Development Party ” as well, which has governed the country since 2002 as a single party, without need for a coalition because it has a majority in parliament.

The answer to the question is “probably not,” that is, the rule of Erdoğan and the Justice and Development Party does not seem to be in immediate danger, for several reasons:

The first and principal reason is that, after all, Turkey is a democratic country, even if its democracy is not perfect, and in a democratic country, the prime minister is replaced by means of elections, not demonstrations. In contrast to the Kurdish minority, the Turkish nation, in all of its sectors, sees Turkey as its country, and the government is considered legitimate, despite the substantial criticism about how it functions. There is not an overwhelming desire to overthrow the government, but rather to improve the way it functions and correct the direction in which it is pulling Turkish society. The slogans heard in the demonstrations express the  demonstrators’ rage  over the behavior of Erdoğan, and actually, it is his personality that is the focus of the demonstrations. One of the signs in the demonstrations showed Erdoğan next to Hitler, both giving the Nazi salute, and for anyone who didn’t understand the image, “Erdoğan = Hitler” was written.

The second reason is that the regime truly wants to turn down the flames, and therefore, on most days of the demonstrations and in most places, there were no policemen positioned near the demonstrations, in order to minimize as much as possible the contact with officials and to minimize the potential for people to be injured, and indeed,  by mid-week only a small number of fatalities, about five, was reported, hundreds of injured and about one thousand arrested. Compared to Egypt or other Arab countries that have been afflicted by the “Arab Spring,” the situation in Turkey is much better, at least in this phase.

The third reason that Erdoğan will remain in power is that the larger the demonstrations against him, the more justified he will be — if he wants — to bring out millions of Turks to demonstrate to support him and his performance. His supporters as well as his opposition know well that during the past eleven years he has brought Turkey to a position of economic power, certainly compared with Europe, which gave him a slap in the face when it refused to allow Turkey to join the European Union. He — the Islamist — took the refusal hard, because the real reason that Turkey was not accepted to the Union is because Turkey is an Islamic country, and Europe does not want to grant membership to 80 million Muslims. For these past five years, since the beginning of the economic crisis in 2008, Erdoğan has been smiling at Europe all the way to the bank. If Turkey had been a member of the European Union it would have had to support — among others — Greece, and there is nothing the Turks want less than to support the Greeks.

For the sake of comparison: In Turkey the GNP per person is about $14,000 per year, while in Egypt it is less than half of that — about $6,000. The distribution in Egypt is much worse than in Turkey; that’s why there are millions of Egyptians who live on 2 dollars per day, while in Turkey the economic success pervades many strata of the population. True, there are pockets of poverty in Turkey as well, but they do not have the critical mass and they are not so severely  impoverished — as in Egypt — to bring millions into the streets to demonstrate against the regime because of their poverty and hunger.

Dissatisfaction

The demonstrations against Erdoğan stem from a sense among his opposition that he has crossed the line in Turkey too, on a number of matters.

The first matter is cultural. Turkey is an arena in the battle between Islamic tradition and the secular-nationalist heritage of Mustafa Kemal “Atatürk” (the father of the Turks) who founded modern Turkey after the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in the First World War. With his rise to power, toward the end of 1923, he imposed a secular nationalist agenda on the country, encouraged the drinking of alcohol and made “raki” the national drink, despite its being alcoholic. He did away with  compulsory compliance with Islamic Shari’a, imposed on the Turks civil marriage and divorce, changed the written language from Arabic characters to Latin characters, closed madrassas, dismissed imams, forbade the wearing of turbans, encouraged women to walk in the streets without a head covering–like the women in Europe–and promoted the political and civil rights of women. His successor, President İsmet İnönü, continued in his path until 1950. Thus, for almost 30 years, the citizens of Turkey underwent a difficult “educational program” intended to strip them of “Islam” and garb them in a modern secularism that would be liberal in every way, except for its treatment of religion.

In parallel, the bazaar — the shuk -- developed as a result of several factors. These factors include economic stability, an air of “business first,” European markets and travelers who came in hordes to enjoy the pleasant climate, the inviting beaches and the “everything is included” service. The military, the parliament, the presidency and the high court all comprised a system that was expected to “adhere to the constitution,” meaning the secular aspect of the state.

This reeducation worked well in the cities, because there the regime had an effective presence, and the various branches of the regime could monitor the application of the anti-Islamic laws and principles. In the cities, a cultural elite developed that included people of the theater, authors, poets, journalists, politicians, lawyers and doctors, as well as economists and accountants, with an impressive representation of women among this modern, “European” elite. As is the way of the elite in the world demographically, this group has a low birth rate, mainly because women usually have plans in addition to being a wife and a mother.

The trend toward secularism was problematic in the villages, because there the regime had a small, even marginal footprint, and tradition remained the name of the game. The farther a village was from an urban center, the more traditional were its residents, and, as a result, the birth rate in the villages remains high. Thus, for 90 years–four generations–since Atatürk began the cultural revolution, the secular citizens have become a minority in Turkey and traditionalists have become the majority. This fact was expressed in parliament when Necmettin Erbakan’s religious “Welfare Party” won the elections in 1996. The secular sector did not accept their defeat and demanded the high court–a secular stronghold in those days–to outlaw the religious party. The court did so, and Erbakan was forced to quit in 1997.

About six years afterward, in 2003, Erbakan’s student, Erdoğan, assumed power after winning a majority in parliament with his “Justice and Development” Party. Most of the secular sectors were left out of the loop politically, and for Erdoğan and his friends it was a sort of revenge  for the decades when the religious were sidelined and oppressed. Since the Islamic party rose to power it has made changes in the Turkish public arena: the Islamic courts were brought back to deal with matters of divorce, women were allowed to enter universities with head covering, and attempts were made to forbid abortions and the drinking of alcohol. Military  officers were replaced with the Islamic regime’s faithful, and parallel changes were made in the high court following a referendum that called for such changes.

The secular sectors object to these pro-Islamic trends, and for the past 11 years they have been trying to stop the process by which Islam is gradually resuming the position it occupied before the defeat of the Ottoman Empire. The restless youth who burst into the streets a week ago carried  banners that were red, the color of the Turkish nation; in contrast, the banners that the adherents of Islam carried in their demonstrations against the war in Iraq in 2003 were green. The red Nationalist versus the green Islamic, and in the struggle for dominion in the Turkish culture, color indicates your cultural identity.

Dictatorial Traits

The second matter that brought the demonstrators out into the streets was Erdoğan’s dictatorial behavior: in recent years he has sent almost a hundred journalists to prison because of their criticism of him. The government of Turkey, under his leadership, monitored what Turkish Internet users put on social networks, mostly Facebook and Twitter. The police take liberty in putting down demonstrations against Erdoğan ruthlessly and mercilessly, using gas mixed with water, and even rubber coated bullets that cause much pain–even though they’re not lethal. In recent demonstrations, one protester lost his eye as a result of being hit by a rubber coated bullet. Erdoğan’s crude and raucous style angers many, many Turks, who feel degraded by his arrogance.

The agreement that Erdoğan reached lately with the Kurdish leader, Abdullah Öcalan, also angered many of those who see the Turkish nation and its rights as overriding principles. They see this agreement as a surrender to Kurdish terrorism, and from their point of view any surrender to the Kurds harms the Turkish character of the country.

Erdoğan’s foreign policy also gets a significant amount of criticism: his involvement in Syria has worsened the chaos there, and Turkey has lost out in Arab world markets where Syria served as a bridge to Turkey. The Syrian refugees in Turkey–approximately 200 thousand, possibly more–are a burden on the Turkish budget, and the tension on the border between Turkey and Syria does not contribute to the quiet necessary for economic prosperity. Many secular Turks view unfavorably Erdoğan’s support for the Syrian rebels, who identify with al-Qaeda, just as they object to his blatant sympathy with the Hamas movement in Gaza, and they accuse him of creating the Mavi Marmara affair. They do not agree with the Israeli response, which was, in their opinion, unreasonably brutal, but, in parallel, there are more than a few among them who think that the event began as an unjustified provocation by Erdoğan.

Erdoğan’s raucous style of speaking, the dismissive way he treats his political opposition, his attention to religious trappings and his activist foreign policy in the Middle East arouses concerns among his opposition that he is trying to restore the Ottoman Empire and become a modern-day sultan. These concerns have increased in the past two years as he began to transfer authority from the prime minister to the president, with the intention of being elected president in 2014, and having the authority to rule like the presidents of the United States, France and Brazil, who serve as executive heads of their countries.

The Taksim Events

The Taksim Quarter is in the heart of Istanbul and it is the stronghold of the modern nationalist state. At the center is Ğezi Park, with hundreds of ancient trees, among which Atatürk liked to stroll. Plans to improve the place include building a mosque and uprooting trees, which seemed to secular citizens like an Islamic blow to the symbols of secularism and Turkish nationalism. This blow was the straw that broke the camel’s back, the spark that ignited the secular public and sent it into the streets, to defend Taksim Square with their bodies, to defend the symbols of the nation, the culture, the arts, democracy and the right to speak out and voice criticism.

There are rumors that among those who stood to benefit from the changes in Taksim Square were two real estate agents who are personally close to Erdoğan. This kind of rumor creates the impression that the regime is corrupt, giving away national symbols to the prime minister’s cronies.

Erdoğan blames foreigners for stirring up the masses against him, and uses conspiracy theories in his defense. “Communists,” he calls them, and his spokesmen claim that those who are stirring up demonstrations are no more than a handful of people on the fringe, who belong to  the radical Left. The Turkish media minimized their coverage of the events of last week so as not to give free publicity to the initiators of the demonstrations and so that the public would not be encouraged to join them. Erdoğan himself transmits a “business as usual” attitude–he went out this week on a tour of North African countries. He is also supposed to go to Gaza this month, in clear defiance of the president of the United States, whose Secretary of State John Kerry tried to dissuade him from going there.

What’s  Next?

As things appear now, the demonstrations do not endanger the government in Turkey, and don’t significantly damage Erdoğan’s image. There are analysts who claim that the demonstrations even strengthened his position among the religious groups, because they fear the resurgence of the secular and their return to power. Here I share with my readers what I heard myself, when I visited Turkey last summer and met with senior people from the ruling religious party. There were those among them who expressed considerable resentment regarding the crude style of the prime minister, his impulsiveness, the arrogant way he relates to anyone outside of his inner circle, and the raucousness that he has brought into the country’s political discourse. They also disagree with the way he relates to Israel. Some of them even claimed that they are embarrassed by him, but they have no choice but to support him, because he knows how to excite the masses; a different leader might be pale and unattractive and the result would be the return of the secularists to power.

Erdoğan will have to draw conclusions from the demonstrations even if they stop, because if he continues to behave as he has done so far, the demonstrations might continue and even intensify. If this happens, Turkey’s economy would pay a high price because of reduced tourism, since tourists don’t set foot in unstable countries (Look at Egypt, Tunisia and, of course, Syria).

It is reasonable to assume that in the near future Erdoğan will be more responsive to people from his party who disagree with his style of speaking and his micromanagement style. He may even free some of the jailed journalists. In the situation created following the demonstrations it will be difficult for him to continue with his changes to the constitution that are intended to strengthen the position of the president at the expense of the prime minister, because the public is more aware today than in the past of his ambition to amass power and perhaps become the sultan of the Neo-Ottoman Turkish Empire.

Can Erdoğan make a basic change to the country, to his behavior, to his personality? It is reasonable to assume that he cannot, and, therefore,  in the future, the streets of Turkey will probably see more demonstrations, violence, wounded and killed, and each time the questions will arise: is Turkey really a democracy? Do the ruling elite know how to protect the civil rights of those who are not part of it? Doesn’t this country have more peaceful and orderly ways to influence the regime’s behavior through legitimate action?

It seems that more than a few years will pass before Turkey becomes an inseparable part of European culture, and by the time that happens, Europe will likely become an integral part of Islamic  culture…

An Alternative Opinion

Those who research Islam have differences of opinion about whether there can be a nexus between the requirements of Islam and democratic values. Islam is divine law, while democracy is based on laws created by a legislative body. Divine law is permanent, while parliamentary law is relatively transitory. Islam determines punishments such as cutting off the hand of a thief while democracy tries to rehabilitate him. In Islam the state is the main mechanism for imposing the commandments of religion (Shari’a) while democracy prefers a separation of religion and state. In Islam the religious figure rules in the name of Allah (as in Iran) and democracy is led by a group of elected individuals in the name of the people.

Despite this, Turkey is an example that shows, especially after 2002, that there is a nexus between Islam and democracy, and the proof is Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party.


It could be that the events of the past week shatter the Turkish example too, because difficult questions do arise from them: Is the rage of the secular citizens directed against Erdoğan personally or against the Islamic culture that he represents? And if he is so democratic, why does his opposition equate him with Hitler and the Nazis? And why does he need to use such violent and undemocratic means to break up the demonstrations that should be allowed in a democracy? And perhaps all this “democracy” of his was only a means to take control of the state and then to impose Islam upon it? And if he puts journalists in prison because they criticized him, will he allow politicians to criticize him when it is time for the next elections?


All of these doubts are an expression of the fear that actually a nexus
between Islam and democracy is not possible, and even the Turkish example worked for only a limited time period. Meanwhile, an Israeli has written a book on Turkey entitled “Demo-Islam” and it will be interesting to see if the theory will stand up to the test of reality.

Originally published at Israel and Terrorism.

Erdogan’s Police May Be Using Chemical CR Gas on Protesters (Video)

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

A Turkish doctor has charged that her patients who have suffered from tear gas fired by police show signs associated with CR gas, classified by the U.S. Army as a combat class chemical weapon that can cause serious side effects and can be lethal.

CR gas was developed the British and was used in Northern Ireland and is used in riot control today in Egypt and Israel, but its use in Turkey was not documented until Wednesday. The use may be legal, but if it is being deployed, the Erdogan government has kept it under wraps and prevented people from knowing.

Police sprayed gas, either the usual CS tear gas or CR gas, on protesters Wednesday as the riots continued after nine days, and the death toll has climbed to three.

The government had instructed police to use restraint, but police violence was seen in Ankara where unions called for a solidarity strike in sympathy with Gezi Park demonstrations.

Police also used water cannons to disperse demonstrators, and among those arrested were the Ankara bureau chief for a television channel and a cameraman.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, following the pattern of Hosni Mubarak and Basher al-Assad, among others, has called protesters “terrorists” and has placed the blamed for the riots primarily on users of social networks. His police arrested 25 people early Wednesday for the high crime of tweeting “misinformation.”

“This is a protest organized by extremist elements,” Erdogan said Monday a press conference.

“Have they already banned freedom of opinion and I have not heard about it?” tweeted one user, (at)CRustemov, as the news spread. “What on earth does it mean to get detained over Twitter!”

Thousands of people have been detained since the beginning of the protests, but most of them have been freed.

“We will not give away anything to those who live arm-in-arm with terrorism.”

Hopes by Erdogan that the violence would end, after his deputy prime minister Bulent Arinc apologized for police violence on Tuesday, have evaporated.

No one expects Turkey to follow Middle East countries that have seen revolutions topple their rulers following Arab Spring demonstrations, but Erdogan has been acting like the deposed rulers.

“He’s not been behaving rationally at all,” Gareth Jenkins, an Istanbul-based researcher with the Silk Road Studies Program at John Hopkins University, told US Today Wednesday. “He appears to be becoming almost delusional and refusing to accept the reality that these protests are mainly spontaneous and are being organized by small groups of people who’ve never engaged in politics before.”

His behavior should come as no surprise. He has been living in his own dream world for the past Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Syrian President Bashar Assad, while reducing diplomatic relations with Israel to a their tier level.

He has since realized that choosing  Ahmadinejad and Assad as friends was the wrong decision, but Erdogan still is a cheerleader for Hamas and wants to visit Gaza.

Years of promoting Turkey as a shining example of prosperity, democracy and tolerance have gone up in smoke.

Property damage and massive injuries, many of them from CD or CR gas, have forced an Istanbul mosque dating back to the Ottoman empire to be converted into a makeshift field hospital.

Ex-Jordanian Spy: Abdullah is Anti-Israel

Sunday, May 19th, 2013

Ouni Abed Botrous Hadaddeen is a former senior level Jordanian agent who is Christian. He defected from Jordan because he objected to the Jordanian monarchy’s practice of assassinating Jordanian citizens who have protested against the current regime. Ouni was born to the tribe of Hadadeen, which is supportive of the Hashemite dynasty that has traditionally filled significant positions within the Jordanian government and armed services.

Ouni Abed Botrous Hadaddeen with King Abdullah II of Jordan.

While he worked as a senior level Jordanian intelligence “collaborator” (spy), Ouni was ordered by the Jordanian government to confront anti-government protests and to lead counter protests in support of the Jordanian monarchy. In addition, he was told to write articles within the Arab media in support of the Jordanian government to prevent Jordan’s power base from collapsing, as was the case in Egypt during the “Arab Spring.” Hadaddeen claims that supporting the current Jordanian regime is not in the best interest of Israel and has accused Jordan’s King Abdullah of manipulating the Jordanian people to have negative views and even hatred of Israel.

The Hadaddeen family.

Hadaddeen is presently a political refugee in Norway, while his family remains within Jordan. He claims that the Jordanian government has constantly threatened to rape and murder his wife and three young daughters. When asked if the threats were credible, Ouni said that rape is a systematic tool used by the Jordanian intelligence and the fact that he is Christian, rather than from a Muslim tribe, makes the regime less concerned about repercussions. Despite the threats, Hadaddeen continues to be an outspoken advocate against the Jordanian monarchy, out of the belief that at this point only public exposure will help his family.

There is evidence to back up Ouni’s claim that the Jordanian regime is fomenting hatred for Israel among the Jordanian people. The Jordanian educational system, instead of teaching the country’s youth to peacefully co-exist with Israel, educates youngsters that Palestine was stolen by the Jews. A report published by Anti-Semitism and Xenophobia Today, states that in Jordanian school textbooks, “references to Zionists as agents of imperialism and proponents of expansionists’ schemes […] occur.” Many of the anti-Israel textbooks that are presently used within Palestinian schools were originally Jordanian textbooks.

However, according to Hadaddeen, it seems that the Jordanian regime doesn’t merely publish anti-Israel textbooks. “One of the main foundations of King Abdullah’s regime is establishing hatred for Israel under the table,” Hadaddeen reports. He says that:

During the protests, [Abdullah] would tell Jordanian intelligence operatives, with me only being one of them, to sneak into protests and chant anti-Israeli slogans, both to distract the attention of people from the king and to give the impression that if he falls, Israel will be next.

Furthermore, a year and a half ago, the Jordanian intelligence establishment organized a massive march to the Israeli border, where Jordanians were told to “cross the border into Palestine.” But when Jordanians began to attempt to cross the borders, Jordanian intelligence officials attacked the protesters. Hadaddeen said this was a ploy in order to convince the Israelis that it was in their best interest to keep the Jordanian king in power.

Ouni’s wife with King Abdullah II.

Hadaddeen said that after the Israeli diplomatic mission was evacuated, as a result of this march, Jordanian intelligence officers went into the streets and proclaimed, “Haha, the Israeli chickens have left.” Hadaddeen compares the Jordanian king to Yasser Arafat, claiming that they are both double-faced. Just as Arafat told westerners he was dedicated to peace yet called for shahids among his own people, the Jordanian king portrays himself as the lone front against the Islamists, while getting his intelligence people to organize Islamist, anti-Israel and pro-regime protests, as the secular opposition, opposed to terror, is persecuted.

Unlike the situation in Egypt during the Arab Spring, the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan was and is on the same side as the regime. As Zaki Bani Rushied –leader of the Islamic Action Front Party—the Brotherhood’s political arm—informed the media, “The people of Jordan have chosen to reform the regime; people can choose to topple the regime or reform it, and here in Jordan we have chosen to reform the regime.”

Indeed, Hadaddeen asserts that in Jordan the Muslim Brotherhood is a “tool used by the king himself.” He said that the Jordanian king is “using the Muslim Brotherhood to terrorize Israel. He would meet them, and this is documented by media, and one day after they would start massive protests against Israel. It is not even a secret.”

Hadaddeen made the claim that in Jordan not a single Muslim Brotherhood member is in jail, and their members drive brand new German cars, in a country where such things are considered an extreme luxury. Hadaddeen described the cooperation between the Jordanian monarchy and members of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood, claiming that the Jordanian monarchy has supported the Muslim Brotherhood for decades.

Hadaddeen decided to abandon the Jordanian monarchy mainly because of the killings that have taken place “under the radar,” that have gone unreported in mainstream media. He claims that “they have been doing a lot of killing.” A Jordanian named Khairi Jameel, who was mildly injured while protesting against the Jordanian government, apparently was murdered by Jordanian intelligence upon boarding an ambulance.

Hadaddeen is certain that the regime attempted to make an example out of him. “I was there that day leading the pro-monarch counter-protests, and we were told by our intelligence officer someone was going to get killed that day. I saw Khary Jameel boarding the ambulance alive with a minor injury, pronounced dead hours later.” Hadaddeen believes that since that he is a Christian, he has dispelled the Jordanian government’s “facade to the western media” that all opposition members are Islamists.

Visit United with Israel.

HRW Founder: Human Rights Must Focus on Arab Regimes’ Hate Speech

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

Robert Bernstein, the founder and long-time director of Human Rights Watch, told his audience of Hebrew Union College graduates and those in attendance last week that human rights advocates have lost sight of what their goals should be with respect to human rights issues in the Middle East.

The undisputed dean of the  global human rights movement, Bernstein, 90 years old, says that the movement has lost its way.  Instead of focusing on the stranglehold on speech and other basic freedoms by the leaders of 300 million Arabs across the Middle East, the human rights watchers instead watch Israel with a microscope and play a twisted game of ‘gotcha!’ in an effort to catch Israel in what they rush to call war crimes.

Bernstein noted that of the millions of Arabs whose governments deny them freedom of speech, “half of them, 150 million, as women, not only lack freedom of speech, but have barely any rights at all.  And the private rights of how to pray and how to love are wrongly dictated by governments all across the Arab World.”

In essence, Bernstein called the “Arab Spring” a squandered opportunity for human rights activists who should have seized the opportunity to help oppressed people throughout the region throw off their shackles, instead of helping them exchange the old shackles for new ones.

Dictators who had oppressed their own people – and deceived them by telling them that Jews and Israel’s very existence were one of the primary causes of their misery – were toppled.  It was a time for human rights organizations and governmental organizations to try to push for these rights long denied, with the hopes that they would take some root.  One might have hoped, too, that it was a time for human rights organizations to tell the people living in Arab countries that their governments not only misled them about their own rights, but also falsely portrayed Israel as a threat and an enemy to detract attention from their plight.  Sadly, they did not do this.  And the reason, in my opinion, is because of where many in the human rights community have placed their emphasis in recent years.

And it isn’t only the brutal repression of their people that Bernstein faults when it comes to the leaders of so many Arab countries, it is the promulgation of state-sponsored hate speech.

If they want to have an impact for good in the Middle East, human rights organizations should be focusing on state-incited hate speech.  And, unfortunately, there is plenty of it in closed societies across the Arab world.  If human rights organizations wanted to be open and honest with the suffering Arab masses, who are certainly suffering, they would point out that blaming Jews is a distraction and not what is holding them and their children back from enjoying the miracles of today’s world.  For decades, government sponsored hate speech in closed societies has been fostering a revenge rather than reform mentality.

Bernstein criticized the current vanguard of human rights activists who hear fascist government dictators’ hate speech and incitement and call it “advocacy” and “protected free speech.”

As an example, Bernstein explained that the statements made by Iran’s Ayatollah Khameini, that he ‘can destroy Israel in nine minutes,’  and Ahmadinejad’s wheeling Iran’s largest rocket through Tehran, declaring: ‘This is for Israel,’ constitute incitement to genocide, which is a crime under international human rights laws. “Yet the major human rights organizations have found no way to confront the problem and recognize that the 300-plus million people living in closed Arab countries have been taught for decades that a small Jewish state has no right to exist.”

Bernstein called on the graduates to reach out to leaders of other faiths and “ask them, as a step toward Mid-East and world peace, to stop the campaign of hate, not only in the Arab world, but wherever else it exists.”

The Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) awarded Bernstein the 2013 Bernard Heller Prize at its May 3 graduation, which was held at  Congregation Emanu-El, in New York City.

The Heller Prize is given to an organization or individual whose work, research or writing reflects significant contributions in arts, letters, the humanities and religion. Previous recipients of the Heller Prize include Dennis B. Ross, Special Middle East Coordinator in the U.S. Department of State, Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke, chief negotiator of the Dayton Accords, Count Folke Bernadotte, for rescuing thousands from the concentration camps during the Holocaust, and Shimon Peres, President of the State of Israel.

The War of Ideologies in the Arab World

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

If one were to ask an Arab what has happened to the Arab countries, and why the terrorism and extremism we see today did not exist in the 1950s and 1960s, the answer would probably point to the frustrations and struggles of dual identities: Arab nationalism and Islamism. After the collapse of Arab nationalism, Islamist movements and ideologies emerged to fill the void. The two developments that exposed the dangerous turn to extremism the Islamist movements had taken were the attacks of September 11, 2001 and the recent Arab uprisings, called the “Arab Spring.”

From the events of 2001 until the latest Arab upheavals, the West has pursued support for a moderate Islam in the region, to eliminate terrorism. Concepts such as a “new Middle East” and support for democracies rather than tyrants became prominent rhetorically. But do leaders in the West realize how rivalries and distrust persist among Muslims, between Muslims, and against other, non-Muslim minorities? Do the values of a moderate and pluralist Islam exist today or have they disappeared completely? If they exist, how can the West support such examples of moderate Islam?

Suspicion among Muslims and toward non-Muslim minorities has a long history, but has become aggravated especially now. Sunnis do not trust Shias and Islamists are suspicious of liberals, and tension is mutual, as each group reacts to the other. Many who do not belong to Islamist parties and who represent minority groups in Egypt and Tunisia are terrified of the Muslim Brotherhood and their more extreme counterparts, the so-called “Salafis” (imitators of the Saudi Wahhabis). An Islamist state could not be expected to guarantee liberty for everyone. Shias, for their part, are anxious about the power of political Sunnism and its impact on them.

Extremist and terrorist ideological networks are present throughout the Middle East and North Africa. The recent terrorist attack on Algeria, in which foreign hostages from Japan, Philippines, Romania, Britain and the United States were killed, is connected to the terrorist invasion of nearby northern Mali. Absence of security, arms smuggling from a collapsed Libya, and rising instability are aggravated, not resolved, by Islamists in power around the region. The horrible situation in Syria, with continued fighting between the regime and armed groups, is a breeding ground for terrorism. Lack of security and stability have spread in Iraq, Yemen, and Lebanon no less than Tunisia and Egypt.

This shift to extremism in the Arab world did not happen overnight. After the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire beginning in the nineteenth century, Pan-Arabism came forward with a vision of resistance to outside rule through a “new” social order, conceived along Islamic lines. Some Egyptian and the Syrian representatives of pan-Arab nationalism believed in an authoritarian state that would unify the heterogeneous Arabs into a single nation and creed. Pan-Arab nationalism was secular, and was crystallised as a political movement in the 20th century by a Syrian Christian, Michel Aflaq, who founded the Ba’ath (“Renaissance”) Party in Damascus in 1940. Aflaq, a Christian, said that Islam could not be dissociated from an Arab nationalist identity, but that the state must be separate from religious institutions. As cited by Kanan Makiya in his 1998 book Republic of Fear, Aflaq wrote, “We wish that a full awakening of Arab Christians takes place, so that they can see in Islam a nationalist education for themselves.”

When Gamal Abd Al-Nasser took power in Egypt in 1952, the country became the spiritual home of Arab nationalism. But enthusiasm for this identity did not liberate the Arab nation from foreign hegemony; nor did it generate the freedom, development and democracy that the people and especially the youth desired. Arab leaders in Egypt, Syria and Iraq, as extreme ultranationalists, disregarded the principles of freedom and democracy. One of the main causes of the decline of nationalist ideology seems to have been the 1967 Arab defeat in the Egyptian-led war against Israel.

The failure of, and disappointment in, nationalism allowed Islamists to gain new ground. At the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries, Muslim thought was occupied by the critical, philosophical views of reformers such as the Iranian Jamal ad-Din al-Afghani (1839-97), the Egyptians Muhammad Abduh (1849-1905) and Ali Abderraziq (1888-1966) as well as others who favored adoption of Western cultural achievements while preserving Islamic belief.

Will the Arab Spring Reach Jordan?

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

Many claim that the Jordanian regime has emerged from the Arab Spring relatively unscathed. For example, former Mossad chief Meir Dagan was reported as stating in Yedioth Achronot in June 2012 that the Arab Spring would not reach Jordan and even if it did, “the regime would find the right way to satisfy the people’s wishes with reforms.” Mudar Zahran, a Jordanian Palestinian pro-democracy activist who is a political refugee, currently living in the United Kingdom claims otherwise.

Zahran, who says he has an extensive following among Jordan’s Palestinian population, argues that the Palestinian majority in Jordan is “angry to the fullest and have nothing to lose.” He further claims that as a whole, Jordan is experiencing rising foment among the general population against King Abdullah II, Jordan’s head of state. In short, “the situation in Jordan is bad.”

Zahran predicts that this year will be King Abdullah II’s last year in power in Jordan and that Abdullah II’s reign will not even survive the summer.

Even the native Bedouins, who were traditionally loyal to the Jordanian monarchy, are protesting openly for the king to be toppled, he says. “They have gone as far as surrounding his palace and telling him to leave the country,” Zahran explains. “All of his photos were burned in every Bedouin area and every refugee camp in Jordan.” For the first time in forty years, the Bedouins and the Palestinians are uniting together to topple the Jordanian monarchy.

Zahran claims that the Jordanian economy is on the verge of collapsing, accelerating the problem for the monarchy. “We have an inflation rate that exceeds Somalia and Ghana, and a growth rate that is less than Somalia, at 2.5 percent,” he said. “The national debt rate exceeds 75 percent of the GDP.”

For Jordanians, this horrendous economic situation brings back memories of the economic situation in 1989, when the Jordanians woke up one morning to find that their Jordanian currency had shrunk by half. Evidently, the prices of local stores in Amman are comparable to London and Tokyo, even though income per capita is 600 dollars less than Egypt, meaning that for the first time in the last 50 years Egyptians earn more than Jordanians.

According to Zahran, such a situation is not sustainable: “Jordan is a time bomb and the economic and political pressure will eventually make it explode.”

As a result, King Abdullah is desperate to save himself, Zahran says, claiming that Jordanian intelligence has been cooperating with the Assad regime over the last two months. Zahran asserts that Abdullah “has been sending back opposition figures to Assad, which is a death sentence for them, and he has been advocating at the Davos Forum that Assad will not fall, even playing on the fear factor that if Assad will fall al Qaeda will take over.”

While the king continues to paint himself as the main opposition to radical Islam, Zahran says he has made an ally of the Muslim Brotherhood which has been helping him crush secular opposition figures.

He claims that the secular opposition in both Syria and Jordan have no interest in fighting Israel and that it is they who dominate the revolution (though he concedes that the Muslim Brotherhood, with its enormous wealth, has the best shot at winning elections because no one is financially supporting the secularists). According to him, the Palestinians of Jordan, who make up the majority of the Jordanian population, are very liberal compared to Palestinians in Judea and Samaria, as well as Gaza.

In addition to colluding with Assad and the Muslim Brotherhood, Zahran says that Abdullah is also reaching out to Iran. In parallel, Al Quds Al Arabi has reported that Iran has already offered Abdullah assistance in developing Jordan’s uranium wealth.

“The king is playing with fire and the Iranians could easily burn up Jordan,” Zahran declares. “They don’t care, just like they did in Lebanon, and they will burn any where as long as it is not on their own soil.”

Another Gaza?

While Zahran says such developments in Jordan require Israel to question its support for Abdullah, he reiterates that he does believe that when (not if) King Abdullah falls, the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood will win elections as they are “the only one[s] with the money.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/interviews-and-profiles/will-the-arab-spring-reach-jordan/2013/04/09/

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