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May 22, 2015 / 4 Sivan, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘democracy’

Iranians Citizens Increasingly Support Peace with Israel

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

Contrary to mainstream media reports, momentum for peaceful relations with the State of Israel is building among the Iranian people.

“I think there are many Iranians who live for the day that Iran has diplomatic relations with Israel,” says Mahyar Shams Ahmadi, who was born in Tehran 28 years ago but now lives in Toronto. “In my view, if you just look at relations between Iran and Israel, it is clear that it is in fact the ruling regime in Iran that is preventing diplomatic relations.”

Ahmadi is inspired by the high-tech advances and Western-style democracy that Israeli society has achieved.  “Israel is already serving as a model for Iran, and other countries, on how to treat women and minorities,” he says. “Much like Canada, Israel does not oppress its citizens and allows them to think freely without fear of being persecuted no matter what your religion or beliefs are.”

Ahmadi criticizes Iranian leadership’s view of Israel as “little Satan” to the US’ “big Satan.” He says he is embarrassed and saddened that the present Iranian government remains opposed to Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations. “Even with a new president, it is evident that Iran’s government hasn’t changed at all, and it is no surprise that Iran still continues to fail to live up to their international obligations,” he said.

Other Iranians are a bit more optimistic. “I think that the prospect of Israeli-Iranian relations will look good within the near future, either through the collapse of the regime, or by reform of Iranian politics,” says Pedram, an Iranian presently living in Stockholm, Sweden. “The Iranian and Jewish people have thousands of years of cultural and historical connection with each other and it cannot be broken just because we have an oppressive regime at the moment. I can with strong confidence say that the overwhelming majority of Iranians, both inside and outside the country, strongly support not only peace with Israel but also better relations in general.”

Recently, Iranian film director Mohsen Makhmalbaf visited Israel as a guest of honor at the Jerusalem Film Festival. He received an award for his efforts to promote freedom and democracy in Iran and hosted a film screening of his recent film The Gardener, which was the first Iranian film to be filmed in Israel in decades. A number of his other films were also highlighted at the Jerusalem Film Festival. Crowds of Israelis honored him with standing ovations. Makhmalbaf was the first high-profile Iranian artist and former revolutionary to visit the Jewish state since the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran.

By defying the BDS Movement and pro-regime forces inside the Islamic Republic, who forced the Iranian Cinema Association to boycott Makhmalbaf’s films, the director risks a prison sentence if he returns to Iran.

Still, Makhmalbaf says he is  “proud to have paved the way for Iranian cinema in Israel. Boycotting and writing statements does not solve anything. It only leads to war. We have to get to know each other through art, literature, and cinema, so we can become friends and end the hostility. That’s the reason I filmed my latest movie ‘The Gardener’ in Israel.” And, he adds, he hopes that someday soon, Israeli filmmakers will be able to shoot films in Iran.

Remarkably, more than 80 Iranian scholars, opposition group members, and human rights activists openly declared their support of his decision to come to Israel.

Visit United with Israel.

Anti-Circumcision Group to Picket ACLU’s Marriage Equality Rally

Monday, July 15th, 2013

San Francisco anti-circumcision activists are planning to picket a campaign for marriage equality by the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California (ACLU )in Oakland Wednesday evening because the civil liberties group opposes circumcision bans.

The reasoning is based not only on mixing apples and oranges but also making them equal, just like boys and girls are born equal – from top to bottom.

Here is a civil liberties group campaigning for equality in marriage but is being picketed because it does not support the argument that there should be gender equality in the law that protects girls from circumcision.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California has organized a screening of “The Campaign,” and members of Bay Area Intactivists said they will protest outside the event venue” to condemn the ACLU’s work denying boys equal protection from genital mutilation.”

The ACLU’s sin, in the eyes of anti-circumcision activists, is that it argued that the San Francisco Male Genital Mutilation Bill a ballot initiative two years ago to restrict non-therapeutic circumcision to consenting adults  violated the right of parents to have their sons circumcisions, according to Jewish law.

The ballot proposal never even reached the voting booths because  a San Francisco judge ruled that state law preempts the city from regulating medical professionals.

San Francisco Superior Court Judge Loretta Giorgi removed the measure from the ballot in her order, stating, “The [California state] statute speaks directly to the issue of local regulation of medical procedures and leaves no room for localities to regulate in this area.”

But if you already are going to change the facts of life and disregard certain bodily differences between girls and boys, then why stick to other facts?

IntactNews, which reports on the “genital integrity movement,” reported that the removal of the proposal from the ballot was “squelching democracy by denying voters their voice.”

In other words, democracy is when you win and it is anti-democratic when you lose.

Once that reasoning can be understood, everything becomes clear.

Federal law protects girls from genital mutilation. IntactNews points out that the law does not stipulate any “religious or cultural exceptions.” If there are any readers who know of a religion that considers circumcision of girls a mitzvah, please raise your hand.

Following the court ruling striking the anti-circumcision proposal from the ballot, California passed a law making it illegal for local authorities to ban or restrict circumcisions. The ACLU backed the law, making it persona non grata for the activists.

By the way if you want to demonstrate against the ACLU next week, be warned that, according to Intact, “a limited number of signs will be available [but] you are also welcome to bring your own sign.”

Egyptian Army to Morsi: You’re No Longer the President

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

Al Ahram reports that a source close to Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi said that the Egyptian Army informed Morsi at 7 pm on Wednesday, that he is no longer the president of Egypt.

The Egyptian Army is carrying out a “full military coup” and the army has placed a travel ban on the country’s embattled President Mohamed Morsi, officials told the AP.

The coup came at the end of the 48 hours Egypt’s army gave Morsi to respond to the demands of protesters who have filled the country’s streets in recent days.

The streets of Cairo were jammed again on Wednesday, with competing pro- and anti-Morsi rallies.

In a statement posted on the Egyptian Presidency Facebook page, Essam El-Haddad, Egypt’s national security adviser called the on-going situation “a full military coup,” and warned that it will only lead to more violence.

“Today only one thing matters. In this day and age no military coup can succeed in the face of sizeable popular force without considerable bloodshed. Who among you is ready to shoulder that blame?” he wrote.

Gen. Abdul Fattah Al-Sisi said the military was fulfilling its “historic responsibility” by ousting Morsi, who was elected only a year ago. Morsi failed to meet the people’s expectations, most notably on economic issues, and the crowds took him down. Now these same crowds erupted victoriously as the announcement was made.

Ahead of the statement, troops moved into key positions around the capital and surrounded a demonstration by Morsi’s supporters in a Cairo suburb. Citing an unnamed presidential source, the state-run newspaper Al-Ahram reported that “the General Command of the Armed Forces told President Morsi around 7 PM (1 PM) that he is no longer a president for the republic.”

Morsi offered to form an interim coalition government “that would manage the upcoming parliamentary electoral process, and the formation of an independent committee for constitutional amendments to submit to the upcoming parliament,” he said in a posting on his Facebook page. He noted that hundreds of thousands of supporters and protesters had packed plazas around the country, and he urged that his countrymen be allowed to express their opinions through the ballot box.

But as night fell Wednesday, troops surrounded a pro-Morsi demonstration at a Cairo mosque and took control of a key bridge across the Nile River. Gehad El-Haddad, a spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood, reported via Twitter that tanks were on the streets.

Democracy à la Islamists Points to Civil War

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

Mohammed Morsi and Egypt’s military leader both are ready to die rather than surrender as the military shows all signs of taking over the government while pro and anti-Morsi groups show all signs of being prepared to fight a civil war.

“We swear to God to sacrifice with our blood for Egypt and its people against any terrorist, extremist or ignoramus,” said  military leader Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi saying they were prepared to die for their causes. “We swear to God to sacrifice with our blood for Egypt and its people against any terrorist, extremist or ignoramus,” al-Sisi said in a statement. “Long live Egypt and its proud people.”

Morsi, supported by the radical Islamic Muslim Brotherhood party, which goes by the lovely-sounding name of the Freedom and Justice party, told Egyptians, “I am prepared to sacrifice my blood for the sake of the security and stability of this homeland,” the president said.

No one wanted to whisper the words “civil war” in Syria last year but that is what has happened, two years after then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called Syrian President Bassar al-Assad a “reformer.”

One years after Morsi won Western-style democratic elections in Egypt and was escorted by President Barack Obama to the altar of democracy, Egypt faces a military coup. Whether or not it happens or not does not make any difference as far as law and order are concerned. Violence is certain in any case.

Muslim Brotherhood leaders reportedly are training for war. More than 20 people have been killed and hundreds have been injured in clashes this week.

Assad has used his vast military power to annihilate tens of thousands of civilians and rebels, but the Egyptian army will not have that privilege.

Its power and the skills of its soldiers are a gift from to the United States, which built and trained the Egyptian military for 30 years.

“One of the potentially big problems with this scheduled coup (for the Egyptian armed forces, anyway) is that American officials are warning that such an event will automatically cause the United States to cut off all military aid,” Foreign Policy reported Wednesday.

With or without a coup, blood will be spilled.

“To the coup supporters, our blood will haunt you, and you will pay an expensive price for every spilled drop of our blood,” stated a sign by a mob supporting Morsi and armed with clubs, ready to carry out their threat.

Islamists  quoted by The New York Times underscore the inherent contradiction between the concept of Western democracy and radical Islam.

“We don’t believe in democracy to begin with; it’s not part of our ideology. But we accepted it and we followed them and then this is what they do,” the newspaper  quoted an Islamist described as  a trader and named Mohammed Taha. “They’re protesting against an elected democracy.”

“This is a conspiracy against religion. They just don’t want an Islamist group to rule,” his friend told the newspaper.

On the other side of the field of battle are those against Morsi, such as Mohammed Saleh, a laborer, who told the Times, “God willing, there will be no Muslim Brother left in the country today. Let them get exiled or find rocks to hide underneath like they used to do, or go to prisons, it doesn’t matter. No such a thing as ‘an Islamist party’ shall exist after today.”

Chaos in Egypt: Obama Backed Another Wrong Horse

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013

The Egyptian army military announced on Tuesday it will establish an interim regime if Mohammed Morsi cannot come to an agreement with opposition forces by Wednesday night, a virtual impossibility.

The army insisted it is not intending to rule the country, but in effect it plans to unilaterally dissolve the legislature and appoint Egypt’s chief justice to head Egypt, a threat that has sent the Obama administration running in all directions.

President Barack Obama is suffering another foreign policy flop in the Middle East, where he and his officials previously gave its total support to the Palestinian Authority, which then turned its back on the United States “peace process.” Washington backed Syrian President Bassar al-Assad at the beginning of the protest movement there more than two years ago, and officials insist on making peace with Taliban terrorists.

And now, one year after having excitingly knighting Morsi as the democratic leader of Egypt following the American-backed ouster of Hosni Mubarak, the Obama administration is frantic at the prospect of another military regime controlling the military aid that Washington offers Cairo.

Violence in Egypt continues. Four more people were killed in clashes on Tuesday. The Muslim Brotherhood has brought out tens of thousands of supporters, many of them armed with clubs, to march in support of him while millions of demonstrators maintain that the only compromise Morsi can make with them is to resign.

The chaos in Cairo is mirrored in Washington.

The Obama administration has suggested to Morsi that he call for early elections, according to officials who spoke on anonymity.

“No, No,” said the State Dept. Nothng of the sort. “The reports that we have been urging early elections are inaccurate,” State spokesman Jen Psake told reporters Tuesday.

President Obama said in Tanzania during the last part of his current  trip to Africa, “Our commitment to Egypt has never been around any particular individual or party. Our commitment has been to a process.”

Really?

The Obama administration was so enamored by the Arab Spring rebellion against the Mubarak regime that it  voted to end a stable and corrupt regime for one that has turned out to be unstable and corrupt.

“The U.S. government’s attitude has been we would deal with a democratically elected government,” Obama said Tuesday. “Democracy is not just about elections — it’s also about how are you working with an opposition?”

Give the United States a democracy, and everything will be just fine.

It is not only the Obama administration that has made democracy unsafe for the Middle East. The Bush administration was not better, having patted itself on the back for introducing democratic elections to the Palestinian Authority as a model for other Arab countries in the region.

And Hamas capped off the model with a parliamentary victory. The terrorist organization then gave the United States a lesson in democracy, Middle East style, and staged a military coup to oust the Fatah party, headed by chairman Mahmoud Abbas, from Gaza.

In Egypt, it is déjà vu. In Cairo’s Tahrir Square, where demonstrators accused the United States three years of backing the dictatorship of Mubarak, a sign declared that the U.S. president supports “dictator Morsi.”

The prospects of a military regime scare the Obama administration no less than Morsi’s staying in power and leading the country into civil war.

The Pentagon provides Egypt with $1.3 billion a year in military sales, a gift for Cairo’s signing a peace treaty with Israel in 1979. The military aid has emboldened the Egyptian to stand up to Morsi. On the other hand, as Politico noted on Tuesday, the Pentagon can threaten the military with a halt in aid if it pulls off a coup.

But in the Middle East, “negotiations” are ultimatums,” a “peace treaty” is a “piece of paper, and an “interim regime” is a “coup.”

A coup? God forbid.

“The beliefs and the culture of the Armed Forces do not allow pursuit of a ‘coup’ policy,” the military said, adding the military acts only “with the will of the great Egyptian people and their ambitions towards change and reform.”

 

Knesset Bills Would Define Israel as Jewish State

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

Two bills submitted to the Knesset on Tuesday would legislate Israel’s Jewish character and as a democratic state.

A bill proposed by coalition chairman Likud Knesset Member Yariv Levin and Jewish Home MK Ayelet Shaked would create a Basic Law declaring that Israel is the national home of the Jewish people and does not recognize it as a national homeland of any other people. It confirms that Israel is a democracy and says that the country will uphold the rights of all of its citizens no matter what religion.

The bill submitted by Ruth Calderon of the Yesh Atid Party calls for the Declaration of Independence to be adopted as Basic Law. According to the Declaration of Independence, Israel is defined as a democratic state of the Jewish people.

A similar bill was proposed in the last Knesset by former lawmaker Avi Dichter of the Kadima party, though that bill called for Hebrew to be the country’s only official language.

The political significance of the bills would be to preclude any possibility for Israel to accede to Palestinian Authority demands that the country allow the immigration of approximately five million Arabs who live in foreign countries and claim Israel as their home.

Erdogan Praised at White House as He Subverts US Interests

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

“So fragile was the structure of their reality that a single unsubsumed consciousness, a solitary ripple in their little pond was enough to roil the waters into a frothing, burbling foam.” —Norman Spinrad, The Void Captain’s Tale (1985)

Consider five factors that had no effect on the very warm reception given by President Barack Obama to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan:

–While the U.S. government has pressured Erdogan not to visit the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, Erdogan announced in the White House Rose Garden that he would do so. An alleged U.S. ally says publicly in front of Obama while being hosted by him that he is going to defy the United States.

This is not some routine matter. With previous presidents, if an ally was going to do something like that he would say nothing at the time and then months later would subvert U.S. policy. Or better yet the foreign leader would not do so. To announce defiance in such a way is a serious sign of how little respect Middle East leaders have for Obama—and U.S. policy nowadays—and how little Obama will do about it.

–Equally bad is the fact that Erdogan directly promised Obama that he would conciliate with Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cooperated because Obama asked him to do so. That’s what U.S. allies do. But immediately Erdogan showed he would pay no attention to the agreement he made.

His negotiators subverted it in several ways, including the demands for ridiculously large amounts of money, the delay in the promised return of the Turkish ambassador to Israel, the continuation of legal action against Israeli officials involved in the Mavi Marmara affair, when Israeli soldiers were attacked by Turkish terrorists demanding to sail to Gaza to deliver equipment to Hamas.

So a second time Erdogan betrayed Obama and make the president look foolish (that is, if anyone in the mass media pointed it out). Again, there was no U.S. criticism of the move or apparent pressure to make Erdogan keep his promise.

There are three other ways that Erdogan has subverted U.S. interests with minimal costs. In fact, the Obama Administration has usually furthered this behavior.

–Some small U.S. diplomatic protests were made about the growing internal repression in Turkey and human rights’ violations there. Increasingly, the country lives under a reign of intimidation even as the Western media mostly ignores this situation. Since the United States keeps praising him, Erdogan can demoralize his opponents, who cannot hope for foreign help, even as he carries on a policy of spreading anti-Americanism in Turkey.

The political power of the Turkish armed forces–the traditional guarantor of the republic and stability in the country was dismantled by Erdogan with U.S. approval. The Turkish media was subverted with only an occasional American squeal of complaint. Now he’s destroying the independent judicial system, the last barrier to his assault on democratic rule. The U.S. embassy in Turkey consistently warned about what has been happening; the White House ignored this information.

–With the Obama Administration’s permission, the Turkish government violates the sanctions against Iran with ever-larger trade and major bilateral cooperation projects. Erdogan’s consistent defenses of Iran’s policies (though the two countries are at odds over Syria) have been forgiven and forgotten by the White House.

–Finally, in many ways the Turkish government has been taking the lead on setting U.S. policy toward Syria. It was Erdogan who largely determined that the official opposition exile leadership would be dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, a path followed by Obama. (I can’t prove it but I’ll bet that Turkey’s regime promised Obama that if he would declare support for the rebels verbally and let them be armed by Qatar and Saudi Arabia then Assad would easily fall. I’d also bet that Erdogan assured Obama that if the president helped the rebels a moderate government would emerge in Syria.)

Meanwhile, Obama has praised Erdogan unstintingly. Obama thinks Erdogan is the very model of a “moderate Islamist” and since Obama’s strategy is to support such people in much of the Arab world, Erdogan has been his guide to the region, though this has meant supporting the radical Islamists of the Muslim Brotherhood. What is especially ironic is that Obama believed that Erdogan’s goals were essentially the same as those of the United States while Erdogan was in fact following a profoundly anti-American policy designed to bring hostile Islamist governments to power. Remember this is no longer the old Western-oriented Turkey of previous decades but a radical–if concealed–Islamist regime.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/rubin-reports/erdogan-praised-at-white-house-as-he-subverts-us-interests/2013/05/21/

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