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November 27, 2014 / 5 Kislev, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘control’

Back to Dubai: Australian Travelers Should Read This

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

If you have not yet read the blog post we wrote a month ago about Prof. Cyril Karabus [“26-Sep-12: Dubai, Dubai, Dubai“], please consider taking a moment to do that now. Even if you don’t have that moment, below is a summary of some of the issues we raised there, plus some fresh background. It’s followed by some thoughts by us on what the scandalous conduct of the authorities in the United Arab Emirates in this sordid affair might all mean.

The UAE is one of those nation states that was invented in the lifetime of many of us, in 1971. At the time, it had a total population of less than a million people, and control of one-tenth of the world’s oil. Those conditions meant it has been making very serious money ever since, while marching to the beat of its own distinctive drum.

The UAE is made up of several separate emirates. The two largest are Dubai and Abu Dhabi who have not always gotten along so nicely together; their armed forces faced off against each other for a while in the late seventies [source]. They were impoverished fly-specks before gigantic oil and gas reserves were discovered in the sixties. They are no longer poor.

It would be nice to say their phenomenal wealth has been used consistently for good. It would be even nicer if the mythology they like to spin about their leaders were true, but it is not. For instance, the UAE’s first president and acknowledged driving force, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, is described in glowing terms on one of its newspaper’s websites:

His firmly-held belief in Islam… was fundamental to his views and actions… He was a firm believer in the need for dialogue between different faiths and cultures, rejecting the intolerant views of those who would seek to promote divisions… His faith was fundamental to his views and actions [including] the duty entrusted to us by God Almighty, who commands us to treat all living creatures with dignity and respect.

Nice sentiments. Keep those last words in mind as we push ahead.

Zayed’s founding (in 1999) and funding of the notorious Zayed Center for Coordination and Follow-Up, a so-called think-tank that is now defunct, demonstrated motivations of a different sort. The Center [says Wikipedia]

became embroiled in controversy when it became known that it also disseminated and provided a platform for anti-American, anti-Semitic, and extreme anti-Israel views.

Its speakers were said [according to Wikipedia] to have described Jews as “enemies of all nations” and “cheaters whose greed knows no bounds.” The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, an infamous anti-Semitic forgery created in the 19th century to vilify Jews, was held up as a factual account of a Jewish plan to “control the world.”

Israel was accused by Zayed Center officials of developing an ethnic bomb that will kill only Arabs, an accusation echoed just last week in a wave of claims to identical effect that were published throughout the Iranian government-controlled media. See our blog post “9-Oct-12: The serious message behind the vile idiocy.”

The Zayed people asserted for good measure that the Mossad was responsible for the assassination of John F. Kennedy and for the Watergate scandal as well. There’s more [here, for instance], but you get the picture.

And (here we get to our point) some Zayed speakers accused Israel of trying to sterilize Palestinian children by lacing the water “used by some Palestinian schools” with chemicals.

Matters came to something of a head in 2004 when Harvard Divinity School decided to return a $2.5 million gift from Sheik Zayed [source] “after 18 months of controversy over the donor’s alleged connection to anti-Semitic and anti-US propaganda… Sheikh Zayed gave the money to Harvard in 2000 to endow a professorship of Islamic studies.” But note that the London School of Economics was not quite so unctuous, and kept and spent a similar cash gift from the same source: we wrote about it in our blog two years ago: see “26-Nov-10: Gifts and good relations.”

Now fast forward to today’s UAE and Dubai, where the statelet’s huge airline, Emirates, has just done a deal with Qantas to essentially take over the Australian airline’s steering wheel. With the Australian government blessing the deal a few days ago [report], it looks like full steam ahead. And according to a UAE business news website story from six days ago headlined “No alternative to Emirates deal: Qantas,” the Flying Kangaroo is already thoroughly and irretrievably locked in.

Police Beat Up Unarmed Israeli in Brooklyn Jewish Center (Video)

Monday, October 15th, 2012

Last Monday evening, October 8, police were called to take care of Ehud Halevi, a homeless man who was sleeping on the couch in the lounge of the Alternative Learning Institute for Young Adults (ALIYA), a synagogue and outreach center for troubled youth on East New York Ave. in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, reports the website CrownHeights.info.

One male and one female officers from the 71st precinct arrived and woke up Halevi, who appeared baffled by their arrival, and would not comply with their order to vacate the premises, insisting he had permission to be there.

The officers decided to arrest Halevi, who refused to be handcuffed and pushed the two cops off. In an instant, the male officer flew into a rage and began to beat up the half naked Halevi. The officer leaped on his defenseless victim, smacking him repeatedly.

Next the shirtless, already subdued Halevi was pepper-sprayed and hit with a truncheon by the female officer.

After about two minutes of out of control violence, the officers are joined by a squadron of cops who were finally able to handcuff the badly beaten man.

According to CrownHeights.info, a source inside ALIYA confirmed that Ehud Halevi indeed had permission to sleep on the premises, and had been a model resident for a month.

Now Halevi is being charged with assaulting a police officer, a felony charge that could put him in jail for five years, as well as four Misdemeanor charges and four violations, including trespassing, resisting arrest and harassment.

Halevi is now out on bail. ALIYA declined to comment on the disturbing affair.

The Alawites and the Future of Syria

Sunday, October 14th, 2012

The Alawites are a small, historically oppressed people, whose political future will determine whether Syria remains united in some form or disintegrates into even smaller ethnic and religious entities.

As they will play such an important role, America, Israel, and other forces interested in the future of Syria might do well to get to know them, their concerns, and how others can best come to terms with them.

Syria’s non-Sunnis have historically lived in apprehension of what the Sunnis might do to them. Although Arab Sunnis are the largest religio-ethnic group in Syria, non-Sunni Arabs make up upwards of 40% of the population. Historically, until the end of Ottoman rule after World War I, the Sunnis assumed they were the region’s natural rulers, and by and large controlled the destinies of the large numbers of non-Sunnis who lived among them. The non-Sunnis seem to have “known their place” in Syrian society – second class citizens. The Sunnis determined the rules.

In the 19th century, Western concepts of nationalism and equality for all people began to appear in the Middle East. The idea that everyone – irrespective of ethnicity or religion – is equal before the law has seemed anathema to the Sunnis: such an idea would contradict the basic Islamic principle that non-Muslims – known as dhimmis, or second-class, barely-tolerated citizens – could live in an Islamic society only if they accepted their place as unequal and unworthy of political and social equality. However, even though all Sunnis might consider themselves equal, in reality, clans, tribes, or ethnic identities, not to mention gender, usually prevail.

After World War I, when the French ruled Syria, they tried to introduce the concept of equality of all people before the law – a principle that never took root. During French rule, the people today known as Alawites – and who today rule Syria – begged the French to allow them to set up their own state in their ancient homeland along the Mediterranean coast between today’s Lebanon and Turkey. One of those who most passionately supported this option was the grandfather of the ruler of Syria today: Suleyman al-Assad.

This is because Syrian Sunnis have historically referred to individual Alawites as “abid” (slave), and treated the Alawites as such. The Alawites were servants in Sunni households. Alawite tradition is filled with horror stories of Sunni abuse, both working in Sunni households and in other areas of as well.

The Alawites, an offshoot of Shiite Islam, were terribly discriminated against under Sunni rule. The Sunnis attitude towards the Alawites – and towards the other non-Muslims – was “noblesse oblige,” or an attitude of condescension, if not outright hostility.

According to Alawite religious beliefs, the Muslim prophet Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law – Ali – was a deity. That a human could be a deity is anathema in Islam. Moreover, even though Christians are officially regarded as dhimmis, or second-class citizens, by the Muslims, many also refer to Christians as pagans: Christians deify Jesus who, in Muslim eyes, was a merely a prophet, born to a human mother and father.

Under the French and in the early years of Syrian independence after 1946, wealthy and respectable Sunnis did not want to have their sons serve in the military. Their Alawite servants, however, recognizing the military as a way to advance, persuaded their Sunni masters to sign recommendations to allow the children of their Alawite servants enter the military. Gradually, the Alawites rose in the ranks. Eventually in 1966, they overthrew the existing order, took over the country, and have dominated it since.

Many of these military officers, like their Christian counterparts, embraced Arab nationalism, perhaps hoping through nationalism to gain the equality that had eluded them in religion under the Sunni-dominated, society. These officers did their best to put their non-Sunni identities aside, and hoped – at times even demanded – that their Sunni fellow-Arabs do the same.

As the Alawites rose in the military, they also rose to senior positions in the Ba’ath Party, the basic tenant of which is militant Arab nationalism. But even as militant anti-Israeli Arab nationalists, these Alawites still feared that the majority-Sunnis would lie in wait, and pounce on the Alawites if the Alawites showed any weakness. The Alawites never allowed themselves forget that the Sunnis hated them; and that even though they controlled Syria, they had better come to an agreement with the leading Sunni families to provide them with stability and enable them to make money – in return for the Sunnis allowing the Alawites to control the country militarily and also make money.

Women Dominate Israeli Courts and Public Legal Sector

Sunday, October 14th, 2012

In Israel, it pays to be a woman if you want to get ahead as legal clerk, lawyer or judge.

In a quiet revolution, women have begun to outnumber men in the Israeli legal profession, and while, for the moment, there are still more active lawyers who are men (28,231) than women (22,670), that gap is quickly closing.

Here are some numbers that may surprise you:

New graduating lawyers: 54% women (1128), 46% men (961). (Source: Israel Bar Association)

Ministry of Justice employees: 69% women (2564), 31% men (1145) (Source: Ministry of Justice)

Court Presidents: 71.5% women (15), 28.5% men (6) (Source: Court Spokesperson)

Judges appointed in 2011: 51% women (321), 49% men (305)

Soon men may need to demand affirmative action if they want to move up in the legal world.

So where does it still pay to be a man?

The last holdout where men still outnumber women is that of partners in the top private Israeli law firms, where men make up 73% of the partners compared to the women’s 27% (Source: Dun and Bradstreet).

The other last bastion of male control is of course as Rabbinical Court judges.

But not to worry, women are working to take those over too.

Questions Outnumber Answers on Downed Drone, for Now

Sunday, October 7th, 2012

The official statement by the IDF is laconic:

An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) was identified penetrating Israeli airspace this morning, and was intercepted by the IAF at approximately 10:00 AM. IDF soldiers are currently searching the area where the drone was downed, in open areas in the northern Negev, to locate and identify the drone.

That’s the whole report.

News agencies add additional minor details but the large questions remain unanswered for the moment. China’s Xinhua news service says the unidentified drone flew over settlements and military bases in southern Israel briefly before being brought down by IDF fire over an open unpopulated area. It was spotted entering Israel’s airspace from the Mediterranean sea heading from the west to the east. But there is no word on where the UAV originated.

The Daily Mail‘s website, published in the UK says this is not the first incident in which Israel has shot down drones entering its airspace:

The Iran-backed Lebanese militia Hezbollah has launched several such aircraft into Israel over the past few years. In the 2006 war, Hezbollah launched an Iranian-made drone capable of carrying explosives into Israel that was shot down. Another one launched two years earlier crashed in the Mediterranean.

The Mail also quotes the IDF’s military spokesperson, Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich, saying no one was injured in the process of bringing down this morning’s drone, and that Israeli ground systems alerted the air force to its presence, as a result of which IDF jets were given the order to scramble and intercept it. The Israeli air force “was in control throughout… We had monitoring contact from the ground and from the air.” She said the drone flew over the Gaza Strip but did not originate there and declined to give more details. But Israel media reports have suggested this was an intelligence gathering drone and was not carrying explosives.

Times of Israel publishes video footage of the IDF bringing down the drone, and says the army is considering “the possibility that it originated in Lebanon. Hezbollah has flown drones into Israeli airspace a few times in the past, though not for several years“.

Back in April 2012, the daily Yediot Aharonot reported that the terrorists of Lebanon’s Hezbollah have

been allocating increased resources towards bolstering its drone unit… The Shiite terror groups reportedly plans to use its unmanned aerial vehicle to attack Israel in case it mounts a military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities. Hezbollah is equipped with Ababil (“Swallow”) drones, which are manufactured and provided by Iran.The Ababil has several models, including one that can carry a warhead packed with several dozens of kilograms of explosives. Defense establishment officials expressed concern that Hezbollah would be able to send multiple drones into Israel’s airspace and have them crash into targets in the country’s north. “Hezbollah is making a specific effort to acquire such (weapons) as part of its offensive lineup against Israel,” a security source told Yedioth Ahronoth.

The Lebanon Daily Star reported that a Hezbollah drone crash-landed inside Lebanon in July. As far back as 2006, the IDF brought one of those Ababil drones down in the sea off the northern Israeli city of Akko [report].

A website called Arkenstone ["a comprehensive, open source, English-language database on the Iranian armed forces"] gives more background about Iranian drones. Keep in mind we still don’t know the source of today’s drone. And for the moment (it’s 7:45 pm Saturday night here in Jerusalem) there are no reports about this that we can see in the online Iranian media.

Finally, a reminder from the BBC World Service that

Iran has unveiled what it says is a new “indigenous” long-range unmanned drone capable of flying over most of the Middle East, state media report. The Shahed (Witness) 129 had a range of 2,000km (1,240 miles) and could be equipped with bombs and missiles, the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps said. It is reportedly capable of carrying out reconnaissance and combat missions.

There are certain to be more details in the coming hours.

Visit This Ongoing War.

U.S. Sanctions 2 Lebanese Charities with Hamas Ties

Sunday, October 7th, 2012

The United States is imposing financial penalties on two Lebanese charities that raise money for Hamas.

The U.S. Treasury Dept. said it was freezing any assets related to the two Beirut-based charities, Al-Waqfiya and Al-Quds International Foundation, Reuters reported. The Treasury Dept. said Al-Waqfiya and Al-Quds “exist to support the families of Hamas fighters” as well as financing projects in the Palestinian territories “intended to spread Hamas’ influence and control.”

It is not known whether the two charities hold U.S. assets; the Treasury Dept. did not provide details on any assets under U.S. jurisdiction and declined to comment when asked, the report said.

Four years ago, the U.S. Treasury imposed economic sanctions on the Union of Good, of which Al-Waqfiya is a central component. The Union of Good was accused of fundraising for Hamas-based groups in the West Bank and Gaza, and some of those funds were used to compensate families of suicide bombers.

Religious Passengers Stranded at Ben-Gurion Over Shabbat

Saturday, September 29th, 2012

Chadarei Chaderim reports: US Airways flight number 796 from Philadelphia, landed at 4:00 on Friday afternoon, instead of the expected 2:15 PM.

The doors to the plane only opened at the terminal at 5:20 PM, and passengers arrived at the passport control at 5:30.

Rav Yochanan Chayat, the El Al rabbi was called, and he in turn called Zaka for assistance.

Zaka had passport control open a special lane for religious passengers to rush them through.

And by the time Shabbat arrived, Zaka managed to bring around 100 mattresses to the airport, and collect enough food from a number of Bnei Brak stores for the passengers who were going to be stranded in the airport over Shabbat.

The only question is, who in their right mind willingly flies on a flight that will hopefully arrive only 3 hours before Shabbat, knowing that flights get delayed all the time?

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/religious-passengers-stranded-at-ben-gurion-over-shabbat/2012/09/29/

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