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September 19, 2014 / 24 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘the Middle East’

Israel an Exception to the Suffering of Arab Women in the Middle East

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

In Pakistan, a 14-year-old girl is shot by Muslim extremists for daring to call for education for women.

In Tunisia, a young woman who was raped by three policemen is about to on trial for committing an “indecent act.” Her crime: she was sitting with her fiancé in a car when the policemen surprised them and brutally raped her.

Syrian refugee girls who fled the fighting in their country are being forced into marriages by Muslim men, who are exploiting the plight of their families to fulfill sexual fantasies.

In the West Bank [Judea & Samaria - ed.] city of Hebron, a Muslim woman who decided to run in the local election is being ridiculed and threatened by fundamentalists who insist that she should be only staying at home cooking and looking after her husband and children.

In the Gaza Strip, women continue to suffer from severe restrictions imposed by Hamas and other fundamentalist groups.

In Saudi Arabia, women are still not allowed to drive.

In Israel, however, Muslim women are not only allowed to drive and run for elections, but can also reach high positions. Not all Arab Israelis are an “enemy from within”; Muslim women in the Jewish state enjoy more rights and opportunities than their colleagues in Arab and Islamic countries.

While female Muslims are being abducted, raped, shot, tortured and forced into unwanted marriages in a number of Arab and Islamic countries, 33-year-old Maria Gharra has just become Israel’s first Muslim woman to serve as a police officer.

Gharra, who is from a village in the Triangle area in Israel, is probably one of the most courageous Arab women in Israel.

“I’m part of the state and I even have no problem singing the ‘Hatikvah’ [Israel's national anthem],” she declared shortly after she assumed her new job.

Gharra represents those Arab Israelis who see Israel as their state and believe in its democratic system.

Her story also shows that Arab women often have more opportunities than in most Arab and Islamic countries.

Contrary to common belief, Gharra does not believe that her recruitment to the Israeli police is an unusual act. “I never felt different,” she explained. “My working assumption is that we are all equal citizens. This is my state and that is why I want to make a contribution.”

What is even more encouraging is that she has won the support of her parents, who say they are proud to see her serve in the Israeli police.

True, many Arab men already serve in the Israeli police, but this is the first time that a woman has been promoted to the rank of officer.

Amal Ayoub, 36, is one of the women making waves in biotechnology. The founder of Metallo Therapy, a startup developing gold nano-particles to enhance radiation therapy, she is the first female Arab Israeli high-tech entrepreneur.

Dr. Rania al-Khatib is the first Arab Israeli woman to become a plastic surgeon at Rambam Hospital.

These are only some of the success stories of Arab women in Israel.

The past two decades have also seen a number of Arab women elected to the Knesset a right that is denied to Muslim women in some Arab countries.

In recent years, hundreds of Arab Israeli women, ignoring calls from some leaders of the Arab community to boycott national service, have volunteered for the government’s initiative.

Although of course there is much Israel could do to improve the living standards of its Arab citizens, especially in employment and infrastructure, the success stories of Arab women in Israel stand in sharp contrast to the reports about discrimination against women in the Arab and Islamic countries.

Originally published by the Gatestone Institute.

The Conversion of Lara Logan

Sunday, October 14th, 2012

It’s been almost 2 years since the attack. While reporting on the Egyptian uprising CBS reporter Lara Logan was sexually assaulted and brutally beaten by a mob of angry Egyptians chanting ‘Jew, Jew’! She was so badly beaten that she had to be hospitalized.

Lara Logan was a typically liberal media reporter. The kind of reporter that tended to side with the underdog in any world conflict. So for example when reporting on the Israeli Palestinian conflict she would have probably focused on the plight of the Palestinians.

By implication of course that meant that the fault of Palestinian suffering lay at the hands of the occupying forces – Israel. She may not have ever spelled that out, but the implications of reportage like that is clear. And it is typical of the liberal mindset. They rarely if ever take history into consideration. They look at the here and now and say, “Fix it!”

But leaving out the historical context makes the truth disappear or seem irrelevant. But the truth of historical context cannot be over-looked. Ultimate justice depends on it. Without it, the guilty will prosper and the innocent suffer. The consequences of overlooking historical context are so evil and unjust – that after the fact even the most cynical observer will wonder how it ever happened.

I don’t recall seeing any of Ms. Logan’s reports after her traumatic experiences in Egypt. But in a recent public appearance in Chicago she wasn’t talking about Palestinian suffering. From the ChicagoSun-Times:

“There is this narrative coming out of Washington for the last two years,” Logan said. It is driven in part by “Taliban apologists,” who claim “they are just the poor moderate, gentler, kinder Taliban,” she added sarcastically. “It’s such nonsense!”

Logan stepped way out of the “objective,” journalistic role. The audience was riveted as she told of plowing through reams of documents, and interviewing John Allen, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan; Afghan President Hamid Karzai, and a Taliban commander trained by al-Qaida. The Taliban and al-Qaida are teaming up and recruiting new terrorists to do us deadly harm, she reports.

She made a passionate case that our government is downplaying the strength of our enemies in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as a rationale of getting us out of the longest war. We have been lulled into believing that the perils are in the past: “You’re not listening to what the people who are fighting you say about this fight. In your arrogance, you think you write the script.”

Our enemies are writing the story, she suggests, and there’s no happy ending for us…

Logan even called for retribution for the recent terrorist killings of Christopher Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya, and three other officials. The event is a harbinger of our vulnerability, she said.

Logan hopes that America will “exact revenge and let the world know that the United States will not be attacked on its own soil. That its ambassadors will not be murdered, and that the United States will not stand by and do nothing about it.”

I am not shocked by her conversion. They say (don’t ask me who “they” are) that a conservative is a liberal that has been mugged. I guess that is what has happened to Ms. Logan. Now instead of focusing on things like the plight of Palestinian “refuges” she is focusing on the greater truths of the Middle East.

She recognizes that the real problems of the Middle East are not caused by the here and now of Palestinian suffering. Although I’m sure she still believes that Palestinians suffer, that is only a part of the total picture. She now understands that the greater problem of the Middle East is Islamic fanaticism.

Besides her apparent new understanding of the reality of Islamic fanaticism – I would personally add that a very large portion of it includes a rabid religious hatred of the Jewish people. Something most reporters ignore or at best gloss over.

My reaction to this story is to say to Ms. Logan, “Welcome aboard.” “We could use a few more reporters like you.”

I only hope it doesn’t take any more violent sexual attacks to make it happen.

Impressions of the Veep Debate

Sunday, October 14th, 2012

Three reactions to the Joe Biden-Paul Ryan debate last night:

Middle East dominance: The foreign policy aspects of the debate focused almost exclusively on Libya, Israel, Syria, Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan. Binyamin Netanyahu’s name was invoked eight times, far more often than any other person other than Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. The Euro crisis, the recent reelection of Hugo Chávez in Venezuela, and the country of India all went unmentioned, while relations with Russia and China came up only glancingly. So chaotic, volatile, and murderous has the Middle East become that American politicians are quasi-experts on it to the point of naming the rival Afghan valleys they’d visited. The region has also become an integral part of a voter’s decision on whom to vote for for president. That Tunisia, Turkey, Jordan, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain never came up, while Egypt and energy were mentioned only once, points the depth of the Middle East issues bench.

Lack of principles: With only a few exceptions, both candidates (as was also the case in the presidential debate) stayed aloof from principles, preferring to make the case as to who is the more competent manager. They do so presumably in the chase for those independent voters in swing states; but for anyone with views on the proper direction of the country, those endless numbers and the disagreements over small facts meant the discussion verged on the tedious. (October 12, 2012)

Joe Biden’s smirk: Actually it was not just the smirk – it was also the false hilarity, the 82 interruptions of Ryan, the finger pointing, the preening arrogance, and the talking down to the audience – that overshadowed all else in the debate. Not until the last fifteen minutes did Biden talk like a normal human being, and then he became quite effective. Before then, however, his ugly demeanor overwhelmed his words, leaving a powerfully unpleasant impression. In contrast, Ryan spoke earnestly and respectfully, even while getting in a couple of sharp elbow jabs.

This article originally appeared on October 12, 2012 on DanielPipes.org and History New Network.

BBC Airing Two Shows on Jewish Refugees from Arab Countries

Sunday, October 14th, 2012

“Sixty years ago, around one million Jews lived in Arab societies, but today only a few thousand remain – mainly in Morocco and Tunisia. The plight of Palestinian refugees is well known, but the Jews who were uprooted and forced to flee their Arab homes are largely forgotten.”

So begins the promo for a two-episode program produced by the BBC, titled “Arab Jews: A Forgotten Exodus.”

This two-part series tells the story of Jewish exodus – a story of dispossession and torn identities in one of the most hotly-debated chapters of history in the Middle East – and how the remaining diasporas are surviving in hostile Arab countries.

Based in Israel, part one examines what happened to the 850,000 Jews that have lived in Arab countries since Biblical times. Magdi Abdelhadi meets Jews from Egypt, Iraq, Libya and Syria, and discovers what life used to be like for them, how they got on with their Muslim neighbors and what prompted the disappearance of their ancient communities.

He hears their individual accounts of loss, anger and injustice and finds out how much of their old culture and identity they took with them to their new home countries.

First episode broadcast time:

Sun 14 Oct 2012 12:32

Sun 14 Oct 2012 20:32

Mon 15 Oct 2012 03:32

Download sound file from archive after the air date.

The Launch of BBC Watch

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

Fans of this blog have often asked why we do not monitor British media institutions other than the Guardian for anti-Israel bias – a query to which we have not had an answer.

Until now.

Recognizing the importance of the BBC in shaping world-wide opinion, a new site, BBC Watch, has been launched which will monitor BBC coverage of Israel and the Middle East.

BBC Watch – a sister project of CiF Watch with the independent support of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) – will provide comprehensive monitoring of the BBC’s coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict in order to ensure adherence to the BBC’s own editorial guidelines.

A few of the more egregious problems at the BBC will be familiar to many CiF Watch readers:

* The BBC demonstrates a disproportionate focus on Israel in relation to other countries in the Middle East – a trend which continued even through the ‘Arab Spring.

* The BBC’s Middle East editor frequently displays an egregious lack of objectivity, portraying Israel in an overwhelmingly negative light and the Palestinians in a positive light.

* The BBC is self-regulating, and has been less than transparent and open to change in response to substantive criticism.

Inspired by CiF Watch’s success in holding the Guardian accountable, BBC Watch will strive to curb the spread of inaccurate or misleading information and distortions at the BBC by fact-checking and providing relevant historical context and complimentary information .

In the case of an organisation as widely viewed, heard and trusted as the BBC, it is vital that misinformation be corrected before it spreads world-wide.

CiF Watch’s Hadar Sela, Managing Editor of the new BBC Watch site, explained the new site’s mission:

Two organisations which formerly monitored BBC output – ‘Just Journalism’ and Trevor Asserson’s ‘BBC Watch’ website – have ceased operations in recent years, exacerbating the need for close and regular monitoring of the world’s most influential broadcaster.”  BBC Watch will seek to build upon and develop the work already done by those organisations in order to continue the monitoring of BBC output on the subject of Israel and to examine the broadcaster’s adherence to its legal obligation to produce accurate and impartial reporting as a service to its funding public.

The BBC’s responsibility, as defined in the Royal Charter, includes the obligation to inform its funders – i.e. the license fee-paying British public.  This obligation is emphasized in the agreement between the BBC and the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport:

In developing (and reviewing) the purpose remit for sustaining citizenship and civil society, the [BBC] Trust must, amongst other things, seek to ensure that the BBC gives information about, and increases understanding of, the world through accurate and impartial news, other information, and analysis of current events and ideas.

BBC Watch intends to diligently hold the BBC accountable to this standard.

Visit CifWatch.com.

Romney Channels George W. Bush’s Middle East Policy

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

Mitt Romney gave a generally fine speech today on the Middle East. Sensibly, he criticized the Obama administration for its Benghazi shenanigans, for the “daylight” with Israel, fecklessness vis-à-vis Tehran, and the cuts in military spending. Very justifiably, he called it “time to change course in the Middle East.”

But I worry about three specifics.

First, Romney’s policy ideas echo the rosy-tinted themes of George W. Bush’s failed policies in the region. Flush with optimism for Afghanistan, Iraq, and “Palestine,” Bush spoke a language that now seems from another world.

For example, almost exactly nine years ago he predicted “a free Iraq [that] will be an example of freedom’s power throughout the Middle East.” I espy shades of this otherworldliness in Romney’s pronouncement that the Middle East hosts “a struggle between liberty and tyranny, justice and oppression, hope and despair,” his goal to build democratic institutions in Egypt, and his dream of “a democratic, prosperous Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security” with Israel. These are slogans, not serious policy.

Second, except in reference to the attack in Benghazi, Romney pointedly avoids mention of Islam, Islamism, or jihad. Rather, he refers to “terrorists who use violence to impose their dark ideology,” avoiding the real issue and portending problems ahead.

Third, his readiness to jump into the Syrian morass worries me. While one can hardly disagree with Romney’s call to “identify and organize those members of the opposition who share our values and ensure they obtain the arms they need,” those friendly members of the opposition are, in fact, a bedraggled few. Operationally, Romney is prepared to arm the Turkish-allied Islamists, a long-term prospect even more frightening than the Iranian-allied Assad regime now in power.

In office, I hope that Romney will shake the GWB-era illusions, not repeat them.

This blog posting originally published at DanielPipes.org, cross-posted from National Review Online, The Corner on October 8th, 2012. 

Romney’s Middle East Speech: I’ll be Tougher (Video)

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

Visit Rubin Reports.

Mitt Romney gave a speech at the Virginia Military Institute today which focuses on U.S. Middle East policy. There are some good points in this speech that are definite steps forward. Romney sounded like a president should, someone who grasps power politics, deterrence, credibility, supporting allies and opposing enemies, and all the basic principles that have been largely vanished by the Obama Administration in exchange for unworkable and dangerous concepts.

This speech will no doubt consolidate his supporters. Yet without challenging President Barack Obama’s policy with more detail or confronting the revolutionary Islamist threat more directly, can Romney persuade people that his strategy would be much better than that of the man under whose presidency Usama bin Ladin was killed (but al-Qaida and the Taliban weren’t defeated) even though Egypt was lost as a U.S. ally? Presumably that will come in the foreign policy presidential debate.

The best parts were on Israel, Syria, how Obama empowered America’s enemies, and the importance for American leadership. Romney also makes it clear that America is not the villain of the world, a point often obscured–to say the least–by the current president.

He begins by quoting former Lexington, Virginia, resident George Marshall, who led the U.S. military during World War II and later became secretary of state and secretary of defense:

“The only way human beings can win a war is to prevent it.” Those words were true in his time — and they still echo in ours.

Romney views President Barack Obama as vulnerable on his international leadership, or rather lack of it. Romney argues that Obama’s policies are contributing to regional instability and future wars in the Middle East:

Our friends and allies across the globe do not want less American leadership. They want more—more of our moral support, more of our security cooperation, more of our trade, and more of our assistance in building free societies and thriving economies.

The attacks on America last month…are expressions of a larger struggle that is playing out across the broader Middle East….

Romney further says that the cause of the attack on the U.S. embassy in Libya was not a video:

[It was] terrorists who use violence to impose their dark ideology on others, especially women and girls; who are fighting to control much of the Middle East today; and who seek to wage perpetual war on the West.

Here, Romney does not recognize the systematic revolutionary Islamist challenge to U.S. interests. We are back on the safe ground — on which Obama basically agrees — that the problem is just al-Qaeda, rather than also the Muslim Brotherhood and other Salafist groups. (Obama’s problem is that having said he already defeated al-Qaeda, he cannot admit that this supposedly destroyed group just assassinated an American ambassador.)

If Romney wants to focus his policy on just al-Qaeda, how can he compete with Obama’s ability to point out that he killed Osama bin Laden? One could even argue that Romney’s approach — the problem is bad terrorists who kill Americans — plays into Obama’s hands.

Obviously, Romney should not foreclose his options in dealing with Egypt, for example, by declaring its regime to be an enemy — despite the fact that even Obama has admitted it is no longer an ally. Yet Romney could have done better in defining the situation.

But here is the best phrase in the speech:

The greater tragedy of it all is that we are missing an historic opportunity to win new friends who share our values in the Middle East—friends who are fighting for their own futures against the very same violent extremists, and evil tyrants, and angry mobs who seek to harm us. Unfortunately, so many of these people who could be our friends feel that our President is indifferent to their quest for freedom and dignity. As one Syrian woman put it, “We will not forget that you forgot about us.

This suggests that Romney “gets it,” regarding the need to support real moderate or at least anti-Islamist forces.

So what would Romney do if he became president? He says:

I will put the leaders of Iran on notice that the United States and our friends and allies will prevent them from acquiring nuclear weapons capability. I will not hesitate to impose new sanctions on Iran, and will tighten the sanctions we currently have. I will restore the permanent presence of aircraft carrier task forces in both the Eastern Mediterranean and the Gulf the region — and work with Israel to increase our military assistance and coordination. For the sake of peace, we must make clear to Iran through actions — not just words — that their nuclear pursuit will not be tolerated.

Romney is basically saying: I will be credibly tougher. The problem is that Obama can say that he has done these specific things. He does not deal with the wider strategic problem of Iranian ambitions or attitudes toward the opposition in that country. There is no substantive difference with Obama’s stated policy, nor is there a discussion — it is understandable that Romney wants to avoid this — of how he would view an attack on Iran or even the possibility of containing Iran. His statement is thus reasonable, but not compelling in proving that Romney would do a better job.

His second point is that he would:

… Champion free trade and restore it as a critical element of our strategy, both in the Middle East and across the world.

He adds that Obama has not signed any new trade agreements. It is not clear how trade agreements would affect the Middle East situation.

Third:

No friend of America will question our commitment to support them… no enemy that attacks America will question our resolve to defeat them… and no one anywhere, friend or foe, will doubt America’s capability to back up our words….I will support friends across the Middle East who share our values, but need help defending them and their sovereignty against our common enemies.

But what countries does Romney have in mind? He has also stated the issue in a way that traps himself. Who shares U.S. values but needs help in defending themselves? Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Algeria, Morocco, and the smaller Gulf emirates need U.S. help, but could not be said to share American values. So who is he talking about?

Fourth:

In Libya, I will support the Libyan people’s efforts to forge a lasting government that represents all of them, and I will vigorously pursue the terrorists who attacked our consulate in Benghazi and killed Americans.

Again, though, the Obama administration has also worked to help form a government in Libya and promises to catch the terrorists. We once more face the issue of Romney asserting that he will be tougher and do a better job but with no clear differentiation on his policy. Those who understand that he would be more determined are already voting for him. How would this convince anyone else?

Fifth:

In Egypt, I will use our influence — including clear conditions on our aid — to urge the new government to represent all Egyptians, to build democratic institutions, and to maintain its peace treaty with Israel. And we must persuade our friends and allies to place similar stipulations on their aid.

This is nice rhetoric but again it is identical to Obama policy declarations. The one new point is that U.S. aid would be conditioned on fair treatment of minorities and maintenance of the treaty with Israel.

On aid, Romney explained that he would reform it

to create incentives for good governance, free enterprise, and greater trade…. And I will make it clear to the recipients of our aid that, in return for our material support, they must meet the responsibilities of every decent modern government—to respect the rights of all of their citizens, including women and minorities… to ensure space for civil society, a free media, political parties, and an independent judiciary… and to abide by their international commitments to protect our diplomats and our property.

The most original statement is on Syria:

In Syria, I will work with our partners to identify and organize those members of the opposition who share our values and ensure they obtain the arms they need to defeat Assad’s tanks, helicopters, and fighter jets. Iran is sending arms to Assad because they know his downfall would be a strategic defeat for them. We should be working no less vigorously with our international partners to support the many Syrians who would deliver that defeat to Iran — rather than sitting on the sidelines. It is essential that we develop influence with those forces in Syria that will one day lead a country that sits at the heart of the Middle East.

This speaks of more activism in helping the rebels and — most important — the moderates among them. He puts the civil war in the context of combating Iranian influence, but to what extent would this justify backing anyone — Salafists and Muslim Brothers — who might overthrow the regime and “one day lead” Syria?

On Afghanistan, he says that he:

… will pursue a real and successful transition to Afghan security forces by the end of 2014.

Yet what does this mean? Romney opposed “a politically timed retreat that abandons the Afghan people to the same extremists who ravaged their country and used it to launch the attacks of 9/11.”

Romney makes a similar hint on Iraq where he says

costly gains made by our troops are being eroded by rising violence, a resurgent Al-Qaeda, the weakening of democracy in Baghdad, and the rising influence of Iran. And yet, America’s ability to influence events for the better in Iraq has been undermined by the abrupt withdrawal of our entire troop presence. The President tried—and failed—to secure a responsible and gradual drawdown that would have better secured our gains.

This hints that Romney would consider keeping U.S. troops there longer. Yet does it make sense for Americans to keep fighting a war on behalf of Afghan allies who often kill U.S. soldiers in pursuit of a stability that is unlikely to come to that country? This could end up being even worse than Obama’s policy.

Finally, Romney criticizes Obama’s policy on Israel:

The President explicitly stated that his goal was to put `daylight’ between the United States and Israel. And he has succeeded. This is a dangerous situation that has set back the hope of peace in the Middle East and emboldened our mutual adversaries, especially Iran….I will recommit America to the goal of a democratic, prosperous Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with the Jewish state of Israel. On this vital issue, the president has failed…. In this old conflict, as in every challenge we face in the Middle East, only a new President will bring the chance to begin anew.

This position implies that a new president could make dramatic progress in the peace process — which is certainly untrue.

Thus, there are shortcomings in Romney’s position but it suggests—perhaps too subtly for most listeners– that as president he would be on the right track, backing anti-Islamists in Middle East governments and oppositions against revolutionary Islamist, anti-American forces.

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