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Walt on Miller and "shared values"

April 30th, 2010 Comments off

I can’t resist but post this great answer by Stephen Walt to Aaron David Miller’s recent Foreign Policy piece on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, on the specific point of “shared values” between Israel and the US:

Third, Miller invokes the familiar mantra of “shared values,” but without asking whether the values we share are now diminishing. American values don’t include confiscating land from Palestinians, throwing thousands of Palestinians in jail without trial, and carving up the occupied territories with separate roads, a wall, and hundreds of check-points.  America’s values are “one person, one vote,” but that’s not the reality in Greater Israel today and that is certainly not what Bibi Netanyahu has in mind for the future. Miller doesn’t think the peace process has any future — and he may be right — but he still believes the United States should give Israel several billion dollars each year in economic and military aid and provide it with consistent diplomatic protection, even in the face of events like the Gaza War or the pummeling of Lebanon in 2006. 
As always Max Blumenthal let us know about these values — just listen to these loonies:
On Tuesday, Israel’s defense minister, Ehud Barak, made the rounds at the State Department and the Pentagon, warmly welcomed by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates. At a White House meeting with the national security adviser, Gen. James L. Jones Jr., President Obama dropped by, lingering for 40 minutes.
The message was clear: “The special relationship between Israel and the United States is unbreakable,” Mr. Barak declared.
Across town, on Capitol Hill, the mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, was making his own rounds, unfurling maps that showed development in his city’s Jewish and Arab neighborhoods. His message was also clear: Jerusalem will not stop construction in East Jerusalem, either formally or informally, regardless of whether it hurts American efforts to restart peace negotiations.
“There is no freeze,” Mr. Barkat said. “We’re minding our own business, building the city for the residents.”
I don’t buy the idea, pushed around by the Israelis and others, that Netanyahu has agreed to a settlement freeze in East Jerusalem but won’t announce it. That may be true in the short-term that construction has ceased, but how long before the local government officials there decide, for electoral or other reasons, to go ahead with a new project and then we’ll hear Bibi say he can’t intervene in local government affairs or some-such nonsense. He cannot be trusted, and really neither can any other Israel official after 20 years of settlement expansion while agreeing to notional settlement freezes. This is why the public commitment to complete settlement freeze is essential: to immediately stop the creation of facts on the ground.

 



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The Withering away (or Elimination) of Israel

April 30th, 2010 Comments off

My weekly article in Al-Akhbar: “The Withering Away (or Elimination) of Israel.”

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Categories: Arab Blogs Tags: Al, Al-Akhbar, article, Israel, Withering

Columbia

April 30th, 2010 Comments off

Pro-Israel group monitoring, intimidating Columbia faculty”. (thanks Electronic Ali)

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Operation Iraqi Theft

April 30th, 2010 Comments off

In the chaotic aftermath of the U.S.-led invasion of 2003, the thousands of sodden documents were spirited out of the country with an assist from then-Vice President Richard B. Cheney’s office and a vague promise of their return once they had been restored. With the materials still sitting in a College Park office building, stabilized but with mold on them, the Iraqi government is demanding that they be shipped back, saying they are the property of the Iraqi people. “They represent part of our history and part of our identity. There was a Jewish community in Iraq for 2,500 years,” said Samir Sumaidaie, the Iraqi ambassador to the United States. “It is time for our property to be repatriated. A high-level Iraqi delegation, led by Deputy Culture Minister Taher al-Humoud, met Thursday with senior State Department officials to press for the return of the artifacts. But others, including many involved in saving the materials, say that they belong to the Jews who fled, or their descendants — many of whom live in Israel. “I don’t see any reason for it to go back to Iraq, because if it is the patrimony of the Jewish community of Iraq, then wherever they are it’s theirs,” Harold Rhode, a former Defense Department official, told the Jerusalem Post last month. “When they left, they would have taken it with them had they been able to take it with them. You don’t abandon Torahs.”” (thanks Dina)

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Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? A Liberal in the Saudi Hay’a?

April 30th, 2010 Comments off

Who guards the guardians? Saudi Arabia has been abuzz lately over remarks by the head of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice for the Mecca region is under fire for suggesting that it’s time to end gender segregation in the Kingdom. And now he’s denying that he’s been fired, though he notes he’s out of the country and that indeed, his house has been attacked back home.

That’s right. The fellow in charge of the religious police (the folks who patrol the streets to avoid gender mixing and other sinful behavior) in Islam’s holiest city, has made liberalizing comments. The Commission — Saudis just call it that, the hay’a in Arabic — is usually seen as a particularly oppressive aspect of Saudi society, but Sheikh Ahmad al-Qasim al-Ghamdi has stirred up a hornet’s nest by suggesting that the concept of absolute gender separation is not based on very sound hadith, that is, it isn’t an absolute Islamic requirement.

While it’s not quite up there with, oh, I don’t know — the Pope announcing he’s dating a Holywood starlet? The Dalai Lama joining the Communist Party of China? — it’s the sort of thing that gets attention in Saudi Arabia.

This story’s been slowly simmering and I haven’t dealt with it yet. A Non-Saudi account here, Saudi ones here and here, all in English. Various accounts have said he was fired, not fired, or fired and reinstated. He’s returning to the Kingdom today, so we may learn more.

One does wonder if he had some sort of green light from above to float a trial balloon. Or was he just interested in exploring another line of work?


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Odds and Ends

April 30th, 2010 Comments off

A few, perhaps a little offbeat, interesting reads:

  • Nabil Fahmy — ex-Egyptian Ambassador to the US, now a Dean at AUC, son of Foreign Minister Isma‘il Fahmy — one of Egypt’s top diplomats and a man who knows the West very well — weighs in at Foreign Policy on his own take on Aaron David Miller’s recent, glum piece which I mentioned here. It’s thoughtful and well informed. And I’m delighted that Ambassador Fahmy, instead of waiting in the wings to maybe become Foreign Minister some day, decided to take a job in academia. He can express his own ideas now. FP has been spinning off the Aaron Miller piece (which they published, after all, so let them capitalize on it) with a “So Why Have We Failed?” series of posts on their Middle East Channel. A collection of short takes here.


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Lebanese villagers lynch murder suspect

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Officials vow to act up on ‘barbaric’ incident in which murder suspect was killed, hung with a butcher’s hook.
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Iran warns Israel against attacking Syria

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Islamic Republic’s vice president vows to ‘cut off Israel’s feet’ if Jewish state attacks Damascus.
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Food Crisis in Yemen: A Rocky Road

April 30th, 2010 Comments off


Shahara bridge in northern Yemen

Poverty and famine are old comrades in much of the world. Add to this drastically declining water tables and economic stagnation and you have a sense of Yemen today. But a recent World Bank project makes a virtue out of the rocky road by literally providing jobs for skilled Yemeni stone cutters to build roads. Check out the video on the website by clicking here.

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NATO Troops Kill MP Relative; Anti-American Demonstrations Nangarhar Demand US Withdrawal

April 30th, 2010 Comments off

NATO forces raided the home in Nangarhar of Afghan parliamentarian Safia Siddiqi Wednesday night, in the course of which they killed her brother-in-law. In response, crowds in Nangarhar blocked a major thoroughfare in protest. The Dari Persian press says that crowds came out to demonstrate all over Nangarhar Province, chanting anti-American slogans and demanding that foreign troops be expelled from the province.

MP Siddiqi told the Persian press that “no one in Afghanistan is safe–not even parliamentarians and the president himself.

Meanwhile, some statistics on Afghanistan from a new Pentagon study of the past 6 months, as reported by the NYT:

NATO is operating in about 100 districts of the country (the vague equivalent of counties).

Number of Afghans in 92 districts (assessed for their relationship to the Federal government) that actively support the government of Hamid Karzai: 0

Number of districts out of 92 that are neutral toward the government: 44

Number of districts sympathetic to the insurgency in March 2010: 48

Number of districts that had been sympathetic to the insurgency in June, 2009: 33

Increase in violent incidents from Feb. 2009 to March 2010: 87 percent.

None of these statistics look particularly good to me.

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