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May 26, 2016 / 18 Iyar, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘parliament’

Mordechai Kedar: Jordan and Radical Islam

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

Since December 2010, when the phenomenon known as the “Arab Spring” began in Tunisia, there has been one slogan that passes, like a leitmotif, through each Arab domain: “The people want to overthrow the regime.” This slogan is on all the posters used in the demonstrations, on the walls of buildings, on flyers that are handed out in the streets; the spokesmen of the various opposition groups and the demonstrating throngs cried it out hoarsely and repeated it again and again, as an unvarying mantra. This slogan may have been the most obvious rhetorical feature of public discourse in the Arab world over the past year and a half, because it signified the events that led to the collapse of the regimes in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen and apparently in Syria as well. The intensity and strength of the use of this slogan was an indication of the height of the flames singeing the feet of the seats of government in these states.

Jordan has managed until now to remain untouched by these problems, and King Abdullah II knew how to navigate matters of the kingdom in a way that the waves of the revolution washing over the rest of the Arab world did not yet wash over his kingdom. In an article I wrote four months ago, I dealt with the problem that the Jordanian monarchy has with the Palestinian majority in Jordan. But in the past few weeks – mainly since the victory of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Tunisia, and Morocco – a different sort of problem is now becoming apparent: the problem of radical political Islam.

This problem is not new, because radical Islamist groups have existed in Jordan for many years, however the monarchy knew how to put them in their place using a combination of the carrot and the stick: prison and torture on one hand, while permitting political and public activities on the other. But the political activity of the Jordanian opposition was always placed within the administrative frameworks of the state, meaning the monarchy made sure that their influence remained marginal. The principal framework is the law of elections, which undergoes basic and frequent changes, in order to make sure that the results of the “democratic” elections will create a feeling of openness, pluralism and legitimacy, but at the same time preserve the status quo and prevent too great a change to the balance of political power.

Elections in Jordan have always been a source of tension between the regime and the political bodies for three main reasons: a) the natural public expectation that the elections would result in an effective parliament, one that will have genuine authorities, but this has never happened, because the laws of parliament can not contradict the decisions of the king and certainly can not remove him from his throne; b) the elections are supposed to reflect the attitudes of the population and its cross section of political opinion and social and cultural attitudes, and this doesn’t happen either; c) parliament represents mainly the traditional trends and interests of the Bedouin tribes which are a minority among the population, and marginalizes other groups, including those with modern viewpoints.

Approximately two weeks ago parliament passed a new law dealing with elections that raised the number of representatives from 120 to 140 and determined that every voter would be able to choose two representatives: one from his local area and one from a national list, which is limited to only 17 seats. The significance of this apportionment is that local tribes will continue to have more political weight and the general, national ideological lists will have less weight. The increase in the number of seats intended for women from 12 to 15 arouses much criticism from all directions: the modernists and women’s organizations want more seats, while the Islamists want a smaller number of seats allocated to women. The election law has not yet been enacted because the king has still not approved it, and apparently will not approve it because of public opposition.

However this hasn’t succeeded in silencing the opposition: last Friday huge demonstrations were held in several Jordanian cities, demanding constitutional changes that would reflect the will of the street to allow the election of a parliament with real authorities and to establish a fair and effective government. These demonstrations streamed into the streets after Friday prayers, apparently under the influence of the sermons delivered by the clerics. We saw this phenomenon in Egypt in January of 2011, and in Syria during March and April of 2011 – the mosque and Friday sermons serve as the match that ignites the barrel of gunpowder, filled with the rage of the public and the will of the people to radically change the corrupt and illegitimate regime. The miserable economic situation in Jordan adds fuel to the fire, and strengthens the feeling of marginalization felt by more than a few sectors.

Zaki Bani Irshid, the general supervisor of the Muslim Brotherhood movement in Jordan, said during a demonstration: “The time has come for us in Jordan to also be happy like the Egyptian people are happy,” while Ali Abu al-Sukkar, head of the Shura Council, the council of the “Islamic Action Front,” that represents the Muslim Brotherhood, said openly and brazenly to the media: “Just as the will of the Egyptian people was victorious, thus the will of the Jordanian people will be victorious and the aspirations to see real reforms will be realized. Today, the voice of the Jordanian citizen echoes throughout all districts, as he emphasized that he will not be put off, nor will he accept partial solutions, trickery or manipulation regarding the public’s expectations to see real improvement in governmental systems.”

The message conveyed in these words is that just as in Egypt the public succeeded to overthrow Mubarak and to set up a representative of the Muslim Brotherhood at the head of the pyramid of power, tso it must be in Jordan. There can not be a clearer or sharper message than this. The interesting thing about this demonstration is that leftist groups also took part in it, and this too is reminiscent of Egypt, because in the first phase of the demonstrations in Egypt, all of the groups who opposed Mubarak were united.

Slogans that were heard in the demonstrations were also interesting: people called the parliament (majlis al-nuab – House of Representatives) the pejorative “majlis al-doab” (House of the Worms), and there were signs saying: “Start the Countdown,” “Victory to the Will of the People,” “Congratulations to Egypt,” “Where is the Corrupt One? the Reforms Will Sweep You Away,” “The Cost of Living is not Reasonable,” “The Prices are on Fire and the Citizen is Worried.” The king, recognizing the danger inherent in Friday demonstrations with slogans and signs of this sort, froze the election law and sent it back to the House of Representatives to increase the number of seats for the national lists at the expense of the local ones, and thus “threw a bone” to the demonstrators.

Security forces that accompanied the demonstration were not armed, however their presence in full uniform was conspicuous. The message that they sent was that as long as the demonstrations stay within the accepted norms they will be permitted to continue. Against this backdrop it is important to note that for a long time in Jordan there has been sharp criticism against the cruelty with which the security forces act towards groups of radical Islamists, who call themselves “Salafia Jihadia,” and whose goal it is to fight with the force of jihad to return Muslim society to the good times, pure values, and proper rulers that it had in the seventh century.

A 16-year-old youth, Layth al-Kalaulah, who apparently participated in the demonstration against the regime last weekend, was caught by an arm of the security force and underwent investigation under torture that included putting out burning cigarettes on his body. He is a resident of the city al-Salt, in the Jordan Valley, where there is activity of the Salafia Jihadia, and he was apparently a member of this group. This is not the first instance in which Jordanian security forces are accused of torture: In recent years the UN and a number of human rights organizations published reports on the use of systematic torture in Jordanian prisons on those who opposed the regime. Confessions were extracted from them illegally, and those responsible for the torture are not usually brought to justice.

It must also be noted that in Egypt a grievous event happened a number of months before the demonstrations broke out in January 2011, in which a youth in Alexandria was tortured to death, which caused a stream of thousands of demonstrators to crowd into the streets. In the opinion of observers, this event strengthened the negative feeling of the population towards the regime, because photographs of the youth “before” and “after” were circulated in the various media and reached the masses. In Syria too, in the beginning of the events in March 2011, photographs of children and youths who had been tortured by the regime were distributed via the social networks, and these photographs poured oil on the fire of the demonstrations.

Al Jazeera, which broadcast live coverage of the demonstrations in Jordan last Friday, finished the report with this sentence: “The people want to reform the regime,” which is clearly a variation of the sentence “The people want to topple the regime.” In this way, almost overtly, Al Jazeera exploits the internal tensions in Jordan and tries to ignite the domestic front in this state as well, after the great success that this Qatari channel has already scored in setting afire the streets of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya Yemen and Syria. The king will need great wisdom to be able to stand up against the rising waves of opposition, from within as well as from the direction of Al Jazeera, the jihadi channel of the Emirate of Qatar, whose rulers suffer from severe megalomania.

Originally published at http://israelagainstterror.blogspot.co.il/2012/07/mordechai-kedar-jordan-and-radical.html

Dr. Mordechai Kedar

Hungarian House Speaker to Elie Wiesel: Writers Will Be Writers

Thursday, July 5th, 2012

Hungary’s House Speaker László Kövér has replied to Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel, who recently renounced a Hungarian state honor in protest at what he sees as the government toleration of rising anti-Semitic sentiment, the Budapest Times reported.

Kövér defended Hungarian writer József Nyírõ, who was a member of parliament for the wartime fascist Arrow Cross Party, which collaborated in the extermination of Hungarian Jews at Nazi Germany’s bidding. Nyírõ was recently made compulsory reading in Hungarian schools.

“When passing judgement on creative minds, it is primarily their creation that should be considered, and double standards in that must not be applied,” Kövér wrote. The founding member of the ruling centre-right Fidesz party described Nyírõ’s political activities as “negligible but doubtlessly and tragically mistaken”.

According to the BT, Wiesel acknowledged Kövér’s reply but declared it unsatisfactory. Kövér failed to address Wiesel’s concerns about a growing cult around the inter-war regent Miklós Horthy, who led Hungary into the Second World War as an ally of Nazi Germany.

Jewish Press News Briefs

Muslim Brotherhood Candidate Wins Egyptian Presidential Elections

Monday, June 18th, 2012

Although results from Cairo give establishment candidate Shafiq a 58 percent lead in the capital, winning Cairo will not be enough to put Shafiq ahead of Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mursi in 27 governorates.

If these results stand, Mursi will have won Egypt’s first post-uprising elections with 51.89 per cent of the vote, succeeding toppled dictator Hosni Mubarak.

Downtown Cairo is filled with the sounds of horns and chants as Mursi supporters are descending on Tahrir Square.

Official results will be announced by the Supreme Presidential Electoral Commission on Thursday, June 21, and the ruling military council will “hand over power” on 30 June.

As the vote count began on Sunday, a decree from the ruling military council assigned only limited powers to the new head of state, and reclaimed for the military council the legislative rights of the Islamist-led parliament, after the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) dissolved parliament last week.

Both Liberal and Islamist opponents denounced this as a “military coup.”

The Brotherhood’s Mohamed Mursi was in weekend a run-off election against Ahmed Shafik, former prime minister under the deposed and ailing Hosni Mubarak.

“The results posted by the Mursi campaign on their website, which show Mursi in the lead, reflect to a large degree the results tallied by the electoral committee,” the member, who asked not to be named, told Reuters.

Other officials contacted by Reuters refused to comment on the Brotherhood’s claim.

“The election commission has nothing to do with the announced results,” committee member Mohamed Momtaz said, while a second member, Osama Salama said: “We are still conducting the tally process.”

Jewish Press Staff Reporter

Rubin Reports: Egypt – Things to Think About as We Await the Presidential Election Outcome

Sunday, June 17th, 2012

http://www.rubinreports.blogspot.co.il/2012/06/egypt-things-to-think-about-as-we-await.html

While one can certainly sympathize with the idea of letting an elected parliament being allowed to take office, that’s not necessarily such a clear call in strategic terms. The parliament–which will write the constitution and thus define the powers of the president–is almost 75 percent rabidly anti-American and antisemitic. (I don’t write that last word lightly but it is quite accurate.) Imagine if this situation had arisen in Iran in 1979 with the Iranian military refusing to turn over power to the forces led by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Would it have been wise for Washington to demand that this be done as soon as possible?

Yet here is Defense Secretary Leon Panetta calling on Egypt’s military in a manner that “highlighted the need to move forward expeditiously with Egypt’s political transition, including conducting new legislative elections as soon as possible.” Senator Patrick J. Leahy has called for withholding U.S. aid to Egypt, saying, “I would not want to see the U.S. government write checks for contracts with Egypt’s military under the present uncertain circumstances.”

What circumstances are more appropriate for sending U.S. arms and money? When the Muslim Brotherhood dominates parliament, the presidency, has written a constitution mandating Sharia law, and follows a policy of death to America and death to Israel? Who are you going to cheer for if Islamists rebel against the regime?

Maybe now is a good moment for the U.S. government to remain quiet.

Is there a precedent for this? Yes. After the Algerian government abrogated elections that it knew Islamists were going to win in 1991, the U.S. governments of George Bush and Bill Clinton generally shut up about it and let the French take the lead in helping the military government, which won the civil war. In contrast, in 2007, a misguided “democratic” impulse let President George W. Bush to stand aside and let Hamas compete in Palestinian elections even though its refusal to accept the Oslo peace process disqualified that radical Islamist group. Today, the Gaza Strip lives under repressive Islamist rule. The regime there has already launched one failed and costly war against Israel and it is only a matter of time until it starts round two.

While Egyptian Brotherhood leaders claim to be moderate when they talk to Western audiences, that has nothing to do with what they say to each other or to Egyptians. In May at El-Mahalla El-Kubra, at a rally attended by Brotherhood presidential candidate Muhammad al-Mursi, the main speaker, Sifwat Hijazi, said that when the Brotherhood took power:

“Our capital won’t be Mecca or Medina, but Jerusalem, millions of shahids [martyrs] will march on the city. The whole world should know — and we say it clearly — our goal is Jerusalem, we shall pray in Jerusalem, and, if not, we shall die as martyrs on its ruins.”

Another speaker added,“Tomorrow Mursi will liberate Gaza.” A singer sang: “The Jews will not be able to sleep, come, lovers of martyrs, you’re all Hamas. Take on arms, and prepare for prayer.”

Just words? Sure, like the words of Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, Iranian spiritual guide Khomeini, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat and many more. The Western mass media, academic experts, and government officials may assure you that the Muslim Brotherhood is really a moderate group and that worrying about what it will do in power is silly. Pay no attention. The Brotherhood daily makes clear what it believes and intends to do.

So does it make sense for a U.S. government to take up the doctrine of “neo-conservative” naivete and demand a Brotherhood victory over the army in Egypt? A proper U.S. government would — and I apologize for the “amoral” requirements of realpolitik — secretly be backing the military to keep the Brotherhood out of power. We now know that President Harry Truman’s administration did certain things to ensure Communist parties didn’t win power in France and Italy which would not meet contemporary “ethical” standards of electoral results over American national security interests. Thank goodness for that!

Barry Rubin

‘First Jewish Leader of the Labour Party’ Enjoys Yiddish, Chicken Soup, But No Marxism

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

“I am not religious. But I am Jewish. My relationship with my Jewishness is complex. But whose isn’t?” writes the leader of the Labour Party and of the opposition in parliament, Ed Miliband, in the New Statesman.

Miliband is painfully aware of his heritage: “As children we were only dimly aware of it but we caught glimpses. When I was seven, my family went to visit my grandmother in Tel Aviv. Pointing at a black-and-white photograph, I demanded to know who was ‘that man in the picture.’ I remember being taken swiftly out of the room and then being told quietly that he was my grandfather David, who had died in Poland long before I was born. It was only some years later that I realized my mum’s father had died in a concentration camp, murdered by the Nazis for being Jewish.”

Edward Samuel Miliband graduated from Corpus Christi College, Oxford, and the London School of Economics. He started out as a television journalist and then as researcher for the Labour Party. He became a confidant of Chancellor Gordon Brown and was appointed Chairman of the Treasury’s Council of Economic Advisers.

When Gordon Brown became prime minister, he made Miliband his Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, followed by an appointment to Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change. In 2010, Miliband was elected Leader of the Labour Party.

“For me, my Jewishness and my Britishness are intertwined,” the man who may be Britain’s future prime minister writes. “My parents defined themselves not by their Jewishness but by their politics. They assimilated into British life outside the Jewish community. There was no bar mitzvah, no Jewish youth group; sometimes I feel I missed out.”

Still, although he married a non-Jew, Miliband has no doubts about his Jewish roots. “My mum got me into Woody Allen,” he recalls, “my dad taught me Yiddish phrases (there is no better language for idio­matic expressions, some of them unrepeatable). And my grandmother cooked me chicken soup and matzo balls.”

As to the influence his home had on his political thinking, Miliband writes: “I was not indoctrinated with Marxism. Nor was I brought up with religion. But I was given a sense that the world could be a better, fairer and different place. And we all have a duty in our own way and our own time to seek to make it so.”

Conservative Benjamin Disraeli (elected 1837) was the first Jewish leader of a political party, and first Jewish prime minister of the United Kingdom.

Sir Julius Vogel was the eighth premier of New Zealand from 1873 to 1875 and again in 1876. Current prime minister of New Zealand John Key and former prime minister Francis Bell are of Jewish extraction, both from the mothers’ side.

Yori Yanover

WordPress Drops Greek Neo-Nazi Party Website

Sunday, May 13th, 2012

The Greek neo-Nazi Golden Dawn Party, which won nearly seven percent of the vote in last week’s elections, has had its official website taken down by host WordPress.

“This blog has been archived or suspended for a violation of our Terms of Service,” said a message from WordPress that replaced their homepage.

The web page hosting service bars sites that include “hate content” or “contain threats or incite violence towards individuals or entities.”

The extreme-right Golden Dawn Party, whose flag closely resembles the Nazi swastika, received 21 seats in parliament, the first time it passed the threshold to enter the legislative body. It campaigned heavily on an anti-immigrant platform under the slogan “So we can rid this land of filth.”

Despite its strong showing, it is not clear how many Golden Dawn members would ultimately end up as lawmakers, as Greece appears headed to fresh elections. A poll published Sunday in the local To Vima newspaper indicated that in a new vote Golden Dawn support would shrink to under 4 percent.

Last week’s elections resulted in a fractured parliament as voters protested against the mainstream parties they blame for the country’s financial crisis and for accepting harsh European austerity measures.

Greek President Karolos Papoulias was holding last-ditch effort talks with political leaders on Sunday, trying to form a national unity government after the three largest parties failed to put together a coalition. If that fails the country must hold new elections in June.

Greece’s Jewish community has condemned the rise of Golden Dawn as “a serious blow for Greek democracy.”

JTA

Far-Right Victories in Greece Frighten Jewish Community

Monday, May 7th, 2012

Jewish leaders in Greece expressed concern and disappointment after the fascist Golden Dawn party was poised to enter the Greek parliament for the first time.

Speaking to a news conference on Sunday, Golden Dawn leader Nikolaos Michaloliakos warned Greece’s enemies – inside and outside the country – that they should be “very afraid.”

“We are coming,” said Michaloliakos, one of the party’s only nationally known leaders. He came to prominence when he won a seat on the Athens City Council in 2010 and celebrated by giving the Nazi salute at the first City Hall meeting.

The party had campaigned on an anti-austerity, anti-immigrant platform, preying on the fears of ordinary Greeks who have seen their neighborhoods overrun by the nearly 1 million immigrants who have flooded the country from Asia and Africa hoping to use it as a gateway to the European Union.

With most of the ballots counted, Golden Dawn received nearly 7 percent of the vote in Sunday’s elections as Greeks punished the mainstream parties they blame for the country’s financial crisis and accepting harsh European austerity measures.

“It is very disappointing that in a country like Greece, where so many were killed fighting the Germans, that a neo-Nazi party is now in parliament,” David Saltiel, president of the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece, told JTA.

It was a major victory for Golden Dawn, whose flag closely resembles the Nazi swastika. In the 2009 elections, the party garnered just 0.29 percent of the vote. In Greece, a party needs more than 3 percent of the vote to make it into parliament.

Saltiel said Golden Dawn entering the parliament was of ” very great concern because they are extreme right,” but he expressed his hope that the party may now moderate its positions.

“We are looking at how the situation will be in parliament and what their positions will be,” he said.

During the elections, young party supporters with shaved heads and wearing black shirts with the Golden Dawn symbol set up vigilante groups to protect Greeks from  immigrants. They have been blamed for several attacks on foreigners; the party denies the charges.

The party’s election platform included plans to landmine Greece’s borders, immediately arrest and expel illegal immigrants, and set up special labor camps for legal immigrants who commit crimes.

Its manifesto does not specifically mention the country’s small Jewish community, saying only that the party would tolerate religious freedom “except in cases that affect national interest and undermine Hellenism.”

However, the party openly displays copies of “Mein Kampf” alongside works on Greek racial superiority at party headquarters and the party symbol has been found at the sites of anti-Semitic attacks in the past.

JTA

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