Sunday, August 22, 2010

Soccer Dad

Soccer Dad

Why not arm our enemies?

Posted: 22 Aug 2010 02:29 PM PDT

There are few analysts out there with the inside knowledge of what's going in Lebanon who know as much as Michael Young does. Still reading his description of the Lebanon, it's hard to see who the good guys are.

The Syrians never reconciled themselves to that departure and sought to prevent the emergence of a sovereign Lebanese state and effective government. Because Syrian soldiers and intelligence agents were no longer on the ground, the Assad regime came to rely on Hezbollah to destabilize Lebanon, handing the party, and Iran, major sway over the country's affairs.

This development so alarmed Arab states, above all Saudi Arabia, that early last year King Abdullah decided to "reconcile" with Syria after years of mutual hostility. The Saudi calculation was a cynical one: Mr. Assad would be given latitude to reassert Syrian domination over Lebanon in exchange for curbing Iran's influence here. The Saudis would press Saad Hariri, the son of Rafiq who became prime minister late last year, to mend fences with Damascus. This was a golden opportunity for Mr. Assad to reverse his 2005 Lebanese setback while earning an apparent certificate of innocence from the victim's family.

Politically dependent on the Saudi regime, Mr. Hariri had little choice but to accept. He knows who killed his father, but his most immediate foe in Lebanon is Hezbollah, and he hoped that the new rapport with Syria would allow him to counterbalance Hezbollah while buying him time to consolidate Lebanon's state institutions.

Hariri apparently has decided to make the bad the enemy of the worst. Assuming he's successful, that leads to certain problems. But apparently that gambles doesn't appear to be working too well.

Lee Smith observes:

In the case of Lebanon, Bush's policy curtailed our relationship with Syrian security services and put more money into Lebanese political institutions. U.S. support of the Lebanese Armed Forces was meant to enable the state to extend its sovereignty from border to border. It is hardly surprising that Hezbollah, which embodies the challenge to that state's sovereignty, understood this better than the Lebanese government. For the last five years, various figures from the March 14 movement have come through Washington to petition for more firepower--planes, tanks, artillery--anything that would serve as evidence that, counter to Hezbollah's argument, the LAF was capable of defending Lebanon from Israel. That the IDF colonel was killed on the border by a sniper rifle likely provided by the United States--before the U.S. aid package, the LAF had no sniper rifles--may bring that support to an end.

This has led to recent articles in the Washington Post and New York Times lamenting the tough choices President Obama faces regarding Lebanon.

On August 13, the Washington Post featured an analysis: Calls to stop funding Lebanese army put Obama in tight spot

In interviews with former Lebanese military officials, current politicians and an array of observers in Lebanon, not a single person said he thought the army would take steps to disarm or distance itself from Hezbollah in the near term, with or without U.S. assistance.

But many expressed concern that severing U.S. aid could feed instability in Lebanon and weaken democratic forces that have lost ground since the Cedar Revolution in 2005 swept a pro-Western government to power. Iran immediately said it would make up whatever shortfalls the Lebanese army incurs by a U.S. aid cut.

Washington's frustration is rooted in misguided expectations, military analysts said. "Don't imagine that a strong army can fight Hezbollah," said a retired Lebanese general, Elias Hanna. "Whoever thinks this is possible is under a delusion. . . . Most of the Lebanese army now is against Israel and is pro-Hezbollah."

According to this, it really isn't a difficult call. If providing arms to the Lebanese army means that they won't be used against Hezbollah (and will likely be used against Israel) then what's the advantage to arming the Lebanese army? The only "leverage" is that if the United States won't provide the arms, then Iran will. So what's the problem. Either the United States wastes its resources by arming an enemy or its enemy uses its resources to arm a puppet.

Now the New York Times enters the "analysis" arena with U.S. Weighs Tough Choice Over Aid for Lebanon. First the "analysis" starts off with a fiction:

Earlier this month, Israeli soldiers were pruning a tree on their country's northern border when a firefight broke out with Lebanese soldiers across the fence, leaving one Israeli and four Lebanese dead.

The skirmish seems to have been accidental.

"Accidental?!?!" An Israeli officer was killed and another wounded by snipers. This came after the Israelis told the UN what they intended to do and the UN passed the information on to elements in the Lebanese army hostile to Israel. Where'd I read that the assault was premeditated? Oh, yes, the New York Times:

A senior American official in Washington said that the Lebanese military appeared to have been responsible for starting the gunfire.

Israeli military officials insisted that the attack on their forces was premeditated. They pointed to internal tensions in Lebanon and what they said was the growing influence of Hezbollah -- the Shiite, Iranian-backed militia -- on certain elements within the Lebanese Army.

Of course the point of today's analysis is to emphasize that the pro-Israel crowd is woefully shortsighted, so the "analyst" Robert Worth concludes:

The same pattern can be seen in other countries across the greater Middle East: a flawed national army is not ideal, but it is usually better than chaos or a vacuum that can be filled by suicidal militants and their patron states. As if to prove the point, on Aug. 14 the Lebanese Army killed two members of Fatah al-Islam.

For Washington, minor victories like that may be worth the price of military aid, even if the broader goal of disarming larger militant groups -- including Hezbollah -- is out of reach.

Ignored, of course, is the possiblity that arming the Lebanese army is the equivalent of arming Hezbollah.

Elder of Ziyon quotes Abdul Rahman Al-Rashid (who?) in contrast to Worth and concludes:

Any western support for the LAF is pointless and misguided. Recent events demonstrate that while the LAF cannot and will not solve any of Lebanon's problems, it can easily make them worse. With this in mind, and despite my respect and affection for the people of Lebanon, the United States and other western powers must not support or contribute to the LAF.

Who do you trust more to understand Lebanese politics: a New York Times columnist whose conclusions were set in stone before he did any research, or an Arab who has studied Lebanon for years?

What the Washington Post and New York Times are evading is what Barry Rubin describes as The Week Lebanon Became Part of the Anti-Western Axis and West Governments Didn't Notice:

Most Western governments and media still publicly ignore the transformation (perhaps temporary) of Turkey into part of the radical, anti-Western alliance but Iran, Syria, and Hizballah are quite aware of this huge change. Equally, they pretend that Lebanon still functions as an independent country, though Congress's cut-off of aid to Lebanon's army shows that it comprehends the situation.

And it is this cutoff, that the Washington Post and New York Times are trying to portray as hopelessly misguided.

Jewish blogging this week

Posted: 22 Aug 2010 08:21 AM PDT

The latest JPIX is up at I wish I were a photographer. Thanks for including my pictures from our trip to Niagara. If they convince someone else to make the trip, that would be amazing!

Ruti Mizrachi hosts Haveil Havlalim #281.

Both carnivals are well organized and beautifully illustrated.


They Do Have A Right To Build A Mosque On Ground Zero--But That Right Does Have Limitations

Posted: 22 Aug 2010 12:55 AM PDT

In the debate about the plan to build a mosque at Ground Zero, the straw man that this is all about the right to build that mosque is getting a real workout.

Few argue that this is about the right to build that mosque, but even granting that right leaves the question of its limitations.

Jonah Goldberg writes about What the Mosque Debate Is, and Isn't, About and notes:
The rights in question are not absolute and inviolable. Communities can regulate by time, place, and manner. Porn theaters can be zoned away from schools and slaughterhouses away from city centers. The question almost always boils down to whether such restrictions are reasonable or not, and that is the sort of thing Americans debate every day. The pretense that the professional Left (to use Robert Gibbs's formulation) does not know this is one of the most transparent lies of recent political discourse.
So enough of the name calling.
The governor of New York offered land further away from Ground Zero for building the mosque--the offer was turned down.

Judging by the opposition to the implications of the mosque being so close to Ground Zero, just why is that offer not reasonable?

by Daled Amos

Islam Has A History Of Building Mosques Over Other Religions' Ruins

Posted: 22 Aug 2010 12:37 AM PDT

Here is an article by historian Dr. Steven Carol, which appears originally on the Statebrief blog, where he expands on the number of mosques built on the ruins of buildings of other religions:

Carol: How a Mosque at Ground Zero is Viewed in the Arab-Muslim World

By Dr. Steven Carol

Arab-Muslim conquerors have a penchant for destroying other people's religious shrines and many times building their own on the ruins. It was, and remains, Islam's way of saying, 'We have defeated you, we rule you, and our god-Allah- is greater than your god.' As I have pointed out, with numerous examples, in my book: Middle East Rules of Thumb: Understanding the Complexities of the Middle East, this has been a long established historic practice.

Islam's holiest shrine-the Kaaba, a cube-like building in Mecca-is an older pre-Islamic pagan Arab shrine. According to Islamic tradition the first building was constructed by Adam and rebuilt by Abraham (Ibrahim). The Black Stone, possibly a meteorite fragment, is a significant feature of the Kaaba. The Masjid al-Haram mosque was built around the Kaaba.

The Ibrahimi Mosque was constructed in Hebron, in 637 CE, over the second-most venerated Jewish holy site, the Cave of Machpelah-the Tomb of the Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

The Dome of the Rock was built on the ruins of Judaism's holiest site, the Temple Mount, in Jerusalem, by the Umayyad Caliph Abd al-Malik, 687-691 CE. Al-Walid, son of al-Malik, erected the Al-Aqsa Mosque at the southern end of the Temple Mount and also over the Basilica of St. Mary of Justinian, in 712 CE.

By no means is this practice limited to venerated Jewish holy sites. The Grand Mosque of Damascus was put up over the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in 715 CE.

On October 18, 1009, the Muslim Fatimid caliph Abu 'Ali Mansur Tariqu'l-Hakim destroyed, down to the bedrock, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, a Christian church venerated by most Christians as Golgotha, the Hill of Calvary, where tradition says that Jesus was crucified. Gravestones were also destroyed. Muslim forces tried to dig up all the graves and wipe out all traces of their existence. The site is now within the walled, Old City of Jerusalem.

This practice continued through the centuries and was applied not only to Jewish, Christian and Hindu sites but other faiths as well. Late in the 20th century, in Libya, on November 26, 1970, the Catholic Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Tripoli was converted into the Gamal Abdel Nasser Mosque.

Two 1,400 year-old statues of Buddha in the Bamiyan Valley of Afghanistan were blown up in March 2001. This came after a fatwa (a religious edict), ordered by the Taliban directed all Afghan "idols" be destroyed as being anti-Muslim. In the Central Asian republics no Buddhist temples remain.

While not a religious site, the World Trade Center stood as a symbol of Western commerce, industry and civilization. Then came the horrors of the destruction of those twin towers on September 11, 2001. No doubt many prayers were said there both during and after the calamitous collapse.

In May 2010, it was announced that near the ruins of buildings reduced to rubble in the name of Islam, an Islamic mosque would rise. This fits the historic pattern of Muslim construction near or atop the ruins of their enemies' symbolic buildings as a mark of Islamic supremacy.

The land for the mosque has been bought for $4.85 million in unaccounted for cash. The estimated cost of the new building that will house the mosque is $100 million. It is to be funded by donations. Just who specifically, would be making these donations is one unanswered question? Once built, 1,000 to 2,000 Muslims are expected to pray at the mosque every Friday.  The target date for the opening of this mosque is September 11, 2011, the tenth anniversary of the attack on New York and Washington, D.C.

Furthermore, a second mosque seeks to build near ground zero. The Masjid Mosque has raised $8.5 million and is seeking an additional $2.5 million to begin construction. While it apparently has not settled on a final location, it has told donors it plans to build very close to where the World Trade Center once stood. In fact, the Masjid Mosque website states: "Insha'Allah we will raise the flag of La-Illaha-Illa-Allah in downtown Manhattan very soon!"

The World Trade Center was destroyed in the name of Islam. The perpetrators stated the people that were murdered were not innocent, which is blatantly false. The planned mosque will be just 600 feet from ground zero, at the site of the greatest Islamofascist achievement over infidels in hundreds of years. Thus, three questions can be raised. Are these mosques to honor the perpetrators of 9-11 rather than its victims? Is the mosque to indicate Islam's triumph and supremacy? Finally, how will the establishment of these mosques be viewed in the Arab-Muslim world? [emphasis added]

Left unsaid, is that other religions have done the same thingFor instance:

Notre Dame de Paris, which translates literally to "Our Lady of Paris" is a church dedicated to the Virgin Mary. It was built on the site of the first Christian Church in Paris whih also happens to be the site of an ancient temple erected to the God Jupiter.

In a comment to Carol's own article, someone writes:

I visited Spain last year.

There are some pretty impressive Cathedrals there....built on the ashes of Mosques.

Islam is not alone in this practice, it shares the habit with Christianity. And, I would guess, with other religions.

We have a choice: we can let them build it, and show that we are a better and more tolerant people. Or we can show that we are just like them.

The last sentiment is nice, but leaves unanswered how allowing them to do what they want shows that we are better--when for them, building that huge mosque illustrates to them that they are better . The fact remains that the symbolism is very disturbing, and the claim that the mosque is intended to honor the victims is merely adapting a Western sentiment for their own purposes.

Allowing the building of the mosque 2 blocks from Ground Zero would be a major mistake.

by Daled Amos

Free-speech crusaders thwarted

Posted: 21 Aug 2010 11:07 PM PDT

It seems to be a rule in politics that pure accusations of hypocrisy are hard to come by. The abstract notion of someone being hypocritical is simply not that interesting to people. So if John Doe accuses Richard Roe of hypocritically having one attitude towards A and another one towards B, the chances are that John Doe has some sort of unspoken stake in A or B or both. Case in point:

The Arab European League has been fined 1,000 [Euros] by a court in Arnhem for carrying a cartoon on its website which suggested the holocaust was invented by Jews, reports Friday's Volkskrant.

The cartoon featured two men in suits discussing how to boost the number of people killed during the holocaust.

The court ruled the cartoon was 'highly offensive' to Jews. The total fine was 2,500 [Euros] with 1,500 [Euros] suspended. Abdoulmouthalib Bouzerda, head of the AEL who drew the cartoon, was acquitted.

According to a Reuters story:
The Dutch group says it had no intention of disputing the Holocaust, but wanted instead to highlight what it described as double standards in free speech.

The AEL circulated it in 2006 after a Danish newspaper published a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammad . . .

MPAC-UK, in a very revealing moment that was repeated over and over again in the Muslim world during the original cartoon controversy, thinks the hypocrisy charge is on-target, thereby reminding us that they are, after all, an organization co-founded by somebody who once gave money to David Irving. (And if you think it is unfair to Muslims to focus much attention on them, recall also that they were invited by the BBC to give a pro-democracy rebuttal to Hizb Ut-Tahrir Caliphate advocacy). Iran's PressTV comments at the end of its article on this latest chapter in the cartoon saga:
Challenging or disputing the Holocaust story is considered a major offense in Europe, entailing fines and long prison term. Many observers view this as a contradiction to the so-called democratic principles of Western democracies, namely the freedom of expression.
Which really means that they, like MPAC-UK, support Holocaust denial (certainly the "soft-core" version, at least), want to shove Muslim taboos down the world's throat, and don't care about freedom of speech. I wonder what Feisal Abdul Rauf thinks. Don't you?

Crossposted on Judeopundit

Did I write three ...

Posted: 21 Aug 2010 09:26 PM PDT

... articles by George Will.

I mean 4.

Today in Many possible Israeli concessions would be suicidal Geroge Will writes:

Twenty-one Israeli settlements were dismantled; even the bodies of Israelis buried in Gaza were removed. After a deeply flawed 2006 election encouraged by the United States, there was in 2007 essentially a coup in Gaza by the terrorist organization Hamas. So now Israel has on its western border, 44 miles from Tel Aviv, an entity dedicated to Israel's destruction, collaborative with Iran and possessing a huge arsenal of rockets.

Rocket attacks from Gaza increased dramatically after Israel withdrew. The number of U.N. resolutions deploring this? Zero.

The closest precedent for that bombardment was the Nazi rocket attacks on London, which were answered by the destruction of Hamburg, Dresden and other German cities. When Israel struck back at Hamas, the "international community" was theatrically appalled.

Of course there's much more in the op-ed.

Richard Kemp also makes a return appearance. He makes similar arguments to those employed by Will, even if his primary example is different. Here's what he writes (and says) in Will an IDF Withdrawal from the West Bank Mean a Safe Haven for Extremist Groups?

To stand any real chance of success, every insurgent or terrorist movement needs a safe haven to operate from - one that is outside the control of the state being targeted and preferably in a land that is free from interference by the target state or its allies, whether due to geography, the protection of a friendly regime, or operating within a failed state. The Vietnam conflict was a classic example of the use of a safe haven. More recently, in the Iraq campaign, Sunni extremists had a safe haven in Syria which was their main logistic support base and a pipeline for suicide bombers flowing into Iraq. They also used extensive support networks in Iran, which also provided a safe haven for Shi'ite insurgents attacking coalition forces, as well as through the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Hizbullah, which provided training, organization, munitions, and direction.

Today the Afghan Taliban's safe haven and support base is in Pakistan, although the second largest extremist group engaged in Afghanistan, Hizb-i-Islami, has its main base in Iran itself. In March, General Petraeus, the Head of U.S. Central Command, in testimony to the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, revealed that Tehran is letting al-Qaeda leaders travel freely between Pakistan and Afghanistan, effectively using Iranian territory as a safe haven, while permitting them also to hold meetings in Iran to plan terrorist attacks against U.S. and other Western targets.

Israel has had more than a flavor of what it can mean to leave hostile groups in control of lands adjacent to its own borders in southern Lebanon and in Gaza. Any similar move to totally cede control to the Palestinians of the West Bank or a part of Jerusalem may have considerable attraction for any peace process, and that is certainly the view of many in the international community. But both prospects would carry immense risk from the perspective of asymmetrical activities against Israel.

Barry Rubin, in a comprehensive critique of George Mitchell's (and, apparently, the administration's) misconceptions, Competing World Views Tear A "Peace Process" to Pieces, similary observes:

Again, Mitchell says what he needs to say, but of course he omits the Hamas violent coup against the PA. Indeed, his statement jibes with the false history of Hamas and its supporters and is rather a mess factually. Abbas's turn came to an end almost two years ago and Hamas could easily argue--and it sure will do so--that he is in office illegally and thus that any agreement he reached with Israel was not valid. By the way, Mitchell states that Hamas does "acknowledge the continued executive authority of President Abbas and his team." I believe that this is false.

In short, Mitchell lays the basis in theory for an Israel-Palestinian treaty leading to a Palestinian state, then Hamas overthrowing the regime to seize control of that state, tossing out the treaty and calling in Iranian and Syrian troops to "protect" Palestine. True, this is leaping ahead in time but this is the kind of thing negotiators need to take into account.

In different ways, Will, Col. Kemp and Prof. Rubin all raise the specter of an eventual terrorist takeover of any territory that Israel cedes. Finally we have a Washington Post editorial, What Israelis and Palestinians must concede if they want a lasting peace:

But the welcoming of good news shouldn't morph into naive celebration. Ms. Clinton was amply justified in warning of obstacles ahead.

The most obvious of those, as she said, will come from the unambiguous "enemies of peace." Hamas, which controls a good chunk of what would become a Palestinian state, might well respond to progress in the talks with increased attempts at violence, and terrorism from other quarters is also likely. Israeli settlers and their supporters who oppose not peace but any ceding of territory may engineer provocations of their own.

There are also potential obstacles within the talks. Is Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu truly committed to a two-state solution? Many Arabs have their doubts. It will be important for him not to allow next month's scheduled end of a settlement moratorium to abort the negotiations.

Is Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas truly willing to accept, once and for all, Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state? Given his inability to say yes to past reasonable offers, many Israelis have their doubts. It will be important for him to engage substantively and not wait for the United States to impose terms. And even if both leaders are willing to compromise, are they also capable of bringing their polities along?

It's frustrating that even after PM Netanyahu withdrew Israel from Hevron, "sophisticates" are still questioning his commitment to a "two state solution." The editorial rightly points out the danger that Hamas poses for peace but doesn't acknowledge that Hamas would still be a threat to Israel even after any hypothetical peace agreement was agreed upon and implemented. And "settlers" as the Post calls them haven't managed to scuttle Oslo or the withdrawal from Gaza, so that reference is gratuitous and unfair.

Still at the end, the Post acknowledges:

Israelis once again will be asked to cede control over territory for intangible and reversible promises of peace and recognition. No one should underestimate the risks of that, especially given the unwillingness of Arab states to offer to Israel even the minor concessions of goodwill that Mr. Obama asked for.

Limiting that concern to two sentences though, fails to acknowledge the unfortunate history of previous Israeli withdrawals (1995, 2000, 2005) all of which led to strengthening terrorists and subsequent terror wars against Israel is disappointing. This is a significant risk, and the Post ought to be giving it more attention than an afterthought.

Crossposted on Yourish.

No comments: