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Poll finds Arabs in support of nuclear Iran

August 16, 2010 Leave a comment

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WJC)–An opinion poll conducted in several Arab countries has found that 57 per cent of respondents believe Iran wants to acquire nuclear weapons and regard this as a positive outcome for the Middle East.

The 2010 Arab Public Opinion Poll was carried by University of Maryland professor Shibley Telhami in conjunction with the polling firm Zogby International. This year’s poll surveyed 4,000 people in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, during the months June and July.

Among the most striking findings is that US President Obama’s popularity in the Arab world has declined sharply over the past 12 months, and only 20 percent of those surveyed approve of him now. Last year, following his Cairo speech, 45 percent of respondents viewed him positively. Professor Telhami said much of the decline in Obama’s ratings was due to disillusionment about the president’s position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, identified by 61 per cent of respondents as the US policy they were most disappointed with.

Asked to name which world leader they admire most, respondents for the first time favored Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan, who launched a number of verbal attacks on Israel following the deadly raid of the Gaza-bound ‘Freedom Flotilla’. President Obama’s name did not even show up on this year’s most-admired leaders list.

Only 3 per cent of respondents said they empathized with the Jewish people if they watched programs about the Holocaust, with 88 per cent saying they resented such material, or had mixed feelings.

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Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress

Commentary: Parallels between Johnson’s failed presidency and Obama’s.

August 11, 2010 Leave a comment

By Ira Sharkansky

Ira Sharkansky

JERUSALEM — There is a troubling item in the New York Times that describes “the Obama administration pouring billions into its nationwide campaign to overhaul failing schools, dozens of companies with little or no experience are portraying themselves as school-turnaround experts as they compete for the money.”

If the budget says spend $X on program Y, there is internal pressure to get it done. It is not so much a government giveaway as shoveling money out the door.

It reminds me of Community Action.

It may not have been the War on Poverty that ended the Johnson Administration, but it did not help. One can argue about which element of that presidency has contributed more to sully its reputation over the subsequent years.

One of the undisputed goods of that period are the social policies that have put the Obamas in the White House, and Black faces in corporate board rooms, university faculty offices, the staffs of distinguished hospitals and law firms, and in the roles representing those functions on popular television shows. Yet there remain the wreckages of Black lives and those of other minorities.
There are pictures circulating of Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Detroit in 1945 and today that portray sparkling cityscapes in Japan and a wrecked Detroit
For those who don’t get the message, one of the items concludes with “What  has caused more long term destruction – the  A-bomb, or  U. S. Government welfare programs created to buy the votes of those who want someone to take care of them?”
 
Americans are a long way from knowing what they will gain and lose from the administration’s 2,000 page health reform, along with federal administrative rulings, state actions, as well as adjustments by insurance companies, HMOs, private physicians, and what the courts will say about the above.

The NYT has documented some of the unresolved questions of who will get what, at how much cost, and when will we finally know?
No one should accuse the NYT of being anti-social, anti-Democratic, or anti-Obama. However, it has reported about the continuing problems of a war that seems unwinable, as well as the follies in congressional/White House logrolling and public administration.
Americans may be seeing a repeat of the bad war and problematic social policy of the 1960s, this time in the presence of persistent unemployment, a large debt overhang, and all those tea parties.

Things are not looking any better in a region of the world claimed as a priority.
The Brookings Institution is reporting a poll of public opinion in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Jordan, Lebanon, and the United Arab Emirates, during the period of June 29–July 20, 2010. Among its findings:

“Early in the Obama administration, in April and May 2009, 51% of the respondents in the six countries expressed optimism about American policy in the Middle East. In the 2010 poll, only 16% were hopeful, while a majority – 63% – was discouraged.”
The Arab public also has not gotten the administration’s message about Iran. “In 2009, only 29% of those polled said that Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons would be “positive” for the Middle East; in 2010, 57% of those polled indicate that such an outcome would be “positive” for the Middle East.” The governments in most of the countries surveyed have expressed strong opposition to Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons. Go figure.
There has been a stability of feeling from 2008 to the present about the prospects of a lasting peace between Israel and Palestinians. Again, the signs do not give the American president what he wants. 50-55 percent feel it will never happen, and 27-40 percent say that it is inevitable, but will take more time.

The Palestinians have refused to begin direct negotiations with Israel, and the Israelis have refused any concessions without direct negotiations.
It is hard to blame either the the Palestinians or the Israelis for those postures. They both are reacting to political realities more than Americans and others still pushing for direct negotiations. Only the naive can expect something more positive than angry frustration to result for such talks in the presence of Hamas, Hizbollah, Iran, and Syria, plus a weak Palestinian Authority and a suspicious Israel.

The Americans may have to prepare themselves for a short presidency. We’ll get an some fresh tea leaves to read on November 2nd.

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Sharkansky is professor emeritus of political science at Hebrew University

A pleasure cruise to Turkey? I think not!

July 16, 2010 Leave a comment

By Donald H. Harrison

Donald H. Harrison

SAN DIEGO–A friend of mine was considering a Mediterranean cruise.  I suggested that he find another itinerary.   One of the ports of call he had been considering was in Turkey.  I can’t imagine a reason after the Gaza Flotilla incident why any member of the Jewish community would want to go to Turkey, anymore than they should want to go to Iran, Syria, Lebanon, or to Gaza.

There are places in the Muslim Middle East I would recommend visiting: Egypt, Jordan, and Oman, all of which I’ve had the pleasure of visiting myself.   Oh, I’ve also been to Turkey, but not again, thank you.  While Recep Tayyip Erdogan is in power, I’ll be waiting for his government to be reset, tied up, er-gone.  If I want Middle Eastern flavor, I’ll go to Israel.  And if I do venture among Israel’s other neighbors, perhaps it will be to the United Arab Emirates, Morocco or Tunisia. I certainly won’t waste time on the country of a false friend, a provocateur, someone who has betrayed Israel in order to curry favor with the most radical regimes in the Middle East. 

Beautiful beaches? Erdogan’s Turkey can keep them.   Antiquities?   There are a lot more in Israel, Jordan and Egypt.  Turkish coffee?  The world has learned to brew it long ago.  Carpets?  We can manage without them.

There was a time when I wanted to travel everywhere on the globe, to meet the people of every land, to taste their foods, partake of their customs.  Not anymore.   If other countries want tourism, let them earn it.  Let them show that they respect the people of the world, no matter where they come from or how they pray.  Let them demonstrate that they are willing to abide by international standards of decency.  

It was an act of indecency last May when Turkey attempted to force Israel to either give up its right to self-defense or be condemned by  Arab-engineered “world opinion” for blocking such manifestations of “humanitarian assistance” as knives, cutlasses, grenades, and automatic weapons.

Five of the six ships in the so-called Gaza Flotilla went peacefully to the Israeli Port of Ashdod and their humanitarian cargoes were transferred without incident to Gaza.  These supplies amounted to drops of water in the river of aid that Israel continually sends to the people of Gaza notwithstanding the fact that their Hamas “leaders” thank the Israelis with Kassam missile strikes on Sderot and the villages of Sha’ar Hanegev.

Only the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara refused to be escorted peacefully to Ashdod.  As the video released by the IDF makes clear, the “humanitarians” on board replied to the Israelis who invited them to deliver the cargo there: “Shut the f**k up.  Go back to Auschwitz!  We’re helping Arabs going against the U.S.  Don’t forget 9/11 guys.” 

Listen, you so-called “humanitarians,” we Jews are not going back to Auschwitz.   And we Americans will definitely remember 9/11, and all the innocent people who died there at the hand of terrorists with whom you apparently have much in common.

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Harrison is editor of San Diego Jewish World

Why would U.S. want Afghan pilots trained in Lebanon or Syria?

April 23, 2010 Leave a comment

By Shoshana Bryen

Shoshana Bryen

WASHINGTON, D.C — The U.S. Department of the Army put out a request for information on “Afghanistan National Army Air Corps English and Pilot Training.”

The Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training & Instrumentation (PEO STRI) is conducting market research by seeking sources with innovative business solutions to (1) train and certify up to 67 Afghani student pilots to an International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) English level 4 in the English language; and (2) provide basic rotary wing or fixed wing Commercial Pilot Training to the European Joint Aviation Authority (JAA) standards.

It is desired that the English language and basic pilot training take place within South West Asia. PEO STRI requests information on sources available to perform training in Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, U.A.E, Uzbekistan, Yemen or other locations in Southwest Asia with the capability to provide requested training.

How is it possible that Syria, a charter and current member of the U.S. State Department list of terrorism-supporting countries, is considered an acceptable place to train Afghan pilots? Or Lebanon, which has Hezbollah as a member of the governing cabinet in Beirut? Hezbollah is a charter and current member of the U.S. State Department list of terrorist organizations, and until September 11, 2001, had killed more Americans than any other terrorist group. Didn’t Kyrgyzstan just have a coup inspired/financed by Russia? Wouldn’t training pro-Western Afghan pilots in Pakistan send those people from the frying pan into the fire? Isn’t Yemen home to some of the most virulently anti-American, anti-Western al Qaeda operatives and preachers, including Anwar al-Awlakiwho was talking to U.S. Army Major Nidal Hassan before he killed 13 Americans at Ft. Hood?
 
Aside from the fact that some of the countries listed are not in South West Asia, as the request for information requires, not one is remotely democratic. OK, we’ll give Jordan a few points and some to Iraq, but that’s it. 
 
What would possess the United States Army to expose Afghani pilots, who are supposed to secure a functional and consensual state in Afghanistan, to countries where the governments are almost uniformly totalitarian, functionally repressive, less than hospitable to reform or dissent, and have women in positions of legal inferiority? Saudi Arabia is the financier of a particularly repressive, homophobic, misogynistic and anti-Semitic form of Islam exported around the world.
 
We did not expect to see Israel on the list, although Israel certainly is capable of training pilots to the European Joint Aviation Authority standards, and a few months in Israel would impart some Western governmental, judicial and social norms, including religious and political tolerance.
 
But if not Israel, why not Britain or Italy or France or Spain or Portugal? Why not Denmark or Colombia or Mali or Uruguay? Why not India or Indonesia or Taiwan or Japan?
 
The list is clearly weighted toward the part of the world to which President Obama wishes to show American comity. Unfortunately, it is also a part of the world in which neither American policies nor American values are particularly welcome items on the agenda. The list and the thinking behind it are political mistakes that should be corrected. Certainly, they should be corrected before we give the Afghanis the idea that the norms of Syria and Lebanon are ones we want them to adopt.

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Bryen is senior director of security policy of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs.  Her column is sponsored by Waxie Sanitary Supply in memory of Morris Wax, longtime JINSA supporter and national board member

Dubai to deny Israelis with second passport entry

March 3, 2010 1 comment

PRESS RELEASE (WJS)–Following the assassination of a Hamas commander blamed on the Hamas, Israelis who also hold the passport of another country will be banned from entering the United Arab Emirates if identified as Jews, according to Dubai’s police chief.  Israeli nationals are currently not permitted to travel to the country, but Israeli citizens holding a passport of a third country can currently enter the country. “We will not allow those who hold Israeli passports into the UAE no matter what other passport they have,” Dubai police chief Dahi Khalfan Tamim said.

“We knew Israelis from their accents, but when they used European passports to come here, we accepted that and we treated them as Europeans. But after this day, if they have dual citizenship, we will exert extreme caution.”

“We know how to recognize them,” Tamim explained, saying his officials would be on the lookout for “Jews” and would identify them by “physical features and the way they speak.”

Israelis have been admitted to the UAE in recent years for specific reasons, including sports competitions and a recent energy conference. The sanctions come as Dubai authorities insist that they were sure that Israel’s Mossad carried out the assassination in a Dubai hotel room of a top Hamas official in January. The assassins used forged passports from five European countries to enter Dubai.

Meanwhile, the head of the Palestinian delegation in Australia, Izzat Abdulhadi, said Jewish leaders in Australia had to decide whether their loyalties lay with Australia or Israel. “I think the Jewish community [leaders] should be more constructive and behave as Australians and protect the integrity of Australian citizens,” Abdullhadi said in an interview with the newspaper ‘The Australian’.

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Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress

Diplomatic crisis between Israel and EU over Dubai killing of Hamas leader

February 22, 2010 1 comment

 
PRESS RELEASE (WJC)–Citing “sources with knowledge of Mossad”, the British newspaper ‘The Sunday Times’ reports that in early January Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu personally authorized the killing of Hamas commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai by a 11-member hit squad of the Mossad. The agents reportedly used fake diplomatic passports to enter the United Arab Emirates.

The foreign ministers of the European Union member states were expected to issue a statement later on Monday condemning the assassination and the use of false European passports, but the statement is unlikely to mention Israel. However, the ‘Jerusalem Post cites an unnamed senior EU official as saying: “The passport controversy obviously will be harmful for the way Israel is treated by the EU.”

Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos said the use of fake passports in the killing of the Hamas commander in a Dubai hotel room on 19 January was an issue of concern for all EU member states. “We are extremely concerned that a passport, which is a very rigorous and legal document, can be used in a different manner and for a different purpose,” he told reporters in Brussels. “We will discuss it, and I hope we will issue a statement expressing our concern.” Moratinos added that he would ask his Israeli counterpart Avigdor Lieberman about the affair on the sidelines of the EU foreign ministers meeting on Monday.

Dubai police last week said the assassins of the Hamas leader had used forged British, Irish, French and German passports and had been sent by Israel. The Israeli government has declined to confirm or deny this claim. Israel’s Deputy Israel Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon said on Saturday that he foresaw no crisis in Israel’s relations with Europe over the use of foreign passports, as Israel had nothing to do with it.

According to Hamas’ own statements, Mahmoud al-Mabhouh was responsible for supplying militants in the Gaza Strip with arms.

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Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress

Mossad accused of assassinating Hamas operative in Dubai

February 18, 2010 3 comments

   

(Press Release) WJC–Officials in Dubai are reportedly blaming the Israeli secret service, Mossad, for the killing of Hamas commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in an airport hotel of the Gulf emirate last month but said it would be impossible to get hold of the assassins as there were no diplomatic relations between the United Arab Emirates and Israel. “All elements strongly indicate the involvement of the Mossad,” Dubai police general Dahi Khalfan Tamim told the newspaper ‘Gulf News’.

Until now, Dubai police had stopped short of accusing the Mossad. However, with at least seven of the eleven named suspects in the case now revealed to have used the stolen identities of Israelis that hold dual nationalities, officials in the Gulf state believe that the evidence points to Israel’s spy agency. On Wednesday, police in the emirate said they hold retinal scans of the suspected assassins, which they plan to publish through the international police agency Interpol.

In Britain and Ireland, the Israeli ambassadors were called in by the respective governments over the matter. Reportedly, the killers of al-Mabhoub used six fake British and three fake Irish passports to travel to the United Arab Emirates.

Britain’s Prime Minister Gordon Brown has promised a full inquiry. “We have got to carry out a full investigation,” he told a radio station. “The evidence has got to be assembled about what has actually happened and how and why, and it is necessary for us to accumulate that evidence before we can make any statements.” The Foreign Office in London made a statement saying that “Given the links to Israel of a number of the British nationals affected, there will be a meeting between the permanent under-secretary and the ambassador…The defrauding of British passports is a very serious issue.”

The newspaper ‘Haaretz’ has learnt the identities of two Palestinians arrested in Jordan in connection with the assassination. Ahmad Hasnin, a Palestinian intelligence operative, and Anwar Shekhaiber, an employee of the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, were arrested in the Jordanian capital Amman and extradited to Dubai. The two were residents of the Gaza Strip until Hamas seized control there in 2007, ‘Haaretz’ reports. A third man is under arrest in Syria on suspicion of having assisted the hit squad, according to the British news paper ‘The Guardian’.

In Israel, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said there was no reason to blame the Mossad for the killings, but added that it was Israel’s policy never to comment on such matters. Meanwhile, Israeli media report that Mossad head Meir Dagan was not planning to resign over the matter.

Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh was suspected for being involved in the 1989 abduction and murder of two Israeli soldiers, along with several other attacks against Israel.

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The preceding provided by The World Jewish Congress