Friday, September 20, 2002

Robert Satloff, director of policy and strategic planning at
the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, writes in the LATimes:
We're Losing the Battle for Hearts and Minds.
With high-profile arrests from upstate New York to faraway
Karachi, recent days have been good for the good guys in the "war
on terrorism." But in one critical arena -- the battle for hearts
and minds in the Middle East, known in Beltwayspeak as "public
diplomacy" -- the United States isn't even putting up a fight.

Public diplomacy is, according to one official U.S. government
definition, "the communication of U.S. interests and ideals to
foreign publics." At its core, public diplomacy is about ensuring
that our policies get a fair hearing in the court of
international public opinion.

Regrettably, the year since the Sept. 11 attacks has seen the
State Department devise a feel-good public diplomacy campaign
that is more about being liked than being understood.

Our natural allies in the war on terror are beleaguered moderates
throughout the Middle East fighting against cultural
totalitarianism. But U.S. officials have produced publications,
Web sites and programs that undermine our friends and lend
endorsement to our adversaries.

A prime example is the State Department's premier outreach Web
site, "Muslim Life in America,"
which is
featured on the home page of every U.S. embassy in the Middle
East. In its effort to project the image of a tolerant America to
Muslims around the world, this site includes a collage of about
50 photos in which virtually every adult woman and most girls are
veiled or wearing head scarves. Not only does that misrepresent
American Muslim women but it also sends precisely the wrong
message to Afghan women now free to choose whether to wear the
burka, to Iranian women fighting to throw off the chador and to
Turkish women at the vanguard of building democracy in an
overwhelmingly Muslim state.

Another government Web site
offers a
ludicrous dictionary of Islamic terminology that states, for
example, that "jihad should not be confused with Holy War,
[which] does not exist in Islam" -- a position held by no serious
scholar of Islam.

The problem goes beyond Web sites. Government publications, such
as the widely disseminated booklet "Network of Terrorism," show
that we foolishly seek common cause with many in the Middle East
by celebrating the fair-weather condemnations of the Sept. 11
attacks by prominent Muslim clerics who otherwise revel in the
killings of innocents (in Israel) through suicide bombings.

Taken in small doses, an effort to identify common values among
different cultures and to emphasize abroad the exemplary record
of U.S. religious tolerance makes sense. But to make this
campaign the centerpiece of our public diplomacy, especially at
the exclusion of policy advocacy, is to fight the wrong war. That
is one of the key findings
of a just-published report of the U.S. Advisory Commission on
Public Diplomacy. For most Middle Easterners, the U.S. record on
tolerance is not a central issue. Indeed, if anything, most would
say we are too tolerant -- too promiscuous, too libertine, too
open to various lifestyles.

The crux of the problem is that Washington has sent the message
to our diplomats abroad to win admiration for our values at the
expense of the admittedly uncomfortable task of advocating our
policies. Indeed, when our most senior public diplomacy official
-- Undersecretary of State Charlotte Beers, a former advertising
executive -- outlined her strategic goals before Congress in
June, advocating U.S. interests and policies didn't even make the
list.

To fight the right war, we need to fight the xenophobic, anti-
Western, anti-American media and old-style educational systems
that dominate throughout the Middle East, reach out to help our
hardy but lonely allies and do more to provide Arabs and Muslims
with the tools, such as English language training, to access
American politics, culture and society for themselves.

On Sept. 12, President Bush delivered an outstanding address at
the United Nations that advocated our policies on Iraq and
promoted our values of fair play, self-reliance and prudent
multilateralism. With proper direction, our diplomats too can
project both our policies and our values. As it is, our public
diplomacy is doing as much harm as good.

Thursday, September 19, 2002

Read about Moshe Hezkiya here.
Five Israelis were murdered this afternoon when an Arab suicide bomber detonated his explosives aboard a public bus in the heart of Tel Aviv. Everyone on the bus and in its vicinity - Allenby and Rothschild Streets - was hurt or killed; 58 people wounded, including one with life-threatening injuries and another ten with serious wounds. The bus was heading north when it exploded just meters away from Tel Aviv's Great Synagogue during the busy lunch hour. This is next to a Starbucks and the Tel Aviv stock exchange. The bus was reduced to a heap of charred metal, and some passengers were thrown out through a large hole created by the explosion. Others got out on their own through windows and doors. Eyewitnesses were horrified to observe chunks of human flesh spread all over the ground in the vicinity of the doomed bus.
Yossi Landau, a volunteer for the emergency medical and burial organization known as Zaka, said today that the Allenby attack was especially grave, as the bomb contained an enormous amount of nails and screws that greatly compound the injuries caused by the explosion. He said that bodily remains were spread out over a very large radius.
Both Hamas and Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the mass murder.
The Tel Aviv police chief told Israeli television that the bus driver is believed to have tried to block the bomber as he boarded the bus. That, said the police chief, probably lessened the number of casualties.
Among the first to arrive on the scene to treat the wounded was rescue-team member Boaz Shabo, who lost his wife and three children in a terrorist attack this past June. More. and CNN.
Gil Shterzer has photographs.

Wednesday, September 18, 2002

Saudi Arabia — the world's most repressive Islamic regime now that the Taliban is gone — recently beheaded three gay men on vague charges of immorality. Troublingly, the executions drew few noticeable expressions of concern from human rights groups, from moderate Islamic groups, or from Western governments. A wave of repression of gays in Egypt, long considered a relatively moderate regime, has likewise aroused little protest. Read more.

More on persecution in Egypt: A discussion in the Egyptian press on how and why homosexuals should be killed.

One Man's Tale
A Gay activist in Egypt describes the nightmare of the government's crackdown on homosexuality

The New Republic reports on how Arafat's Palestinian authorities persecute homosexuals.

Elsewhere in the Muslim world,
The Iranian gay and lesbian human rights group Homan says that since 1980,
more than 4,000 Homosexual men and women have been executed by the Iranian
government, and provided the following translation of Iranian law concerning
homosexuality: "The Islamic Penal Law Against Homosexuals in Iran, approved
by the Islamic Consultancy Parliament 08.05.1370 (30.07.1991) and finally
ratified by the High Expediency Council on 07.09.1370 (28.11.1991) calls for
the following: Article 110: Punishment for sodomy is killing; the Sharia
judge decides on how to carry out the killing. Article 129: Punishment for
lesbianism is one hundred (100) lashes for each party. Article 131: If the
act of lesbianism is repeated three times and punishment is enforced each
time, the death sentence will be issued the fourth time." ...Muslim militia
groups on the Philippine island of Mindanao have been terrorizing
Homosexuals, threatening them with castration in an effort to drive them
elsewhere. They say Homosexual relationships are banned in many Islamic
countries including Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bosnia, Iran, Jordan,
Kuwait, Lebanon, Malaysia, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Syria and the UAE.
Homosexuality is punishable by death in Iran, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia,
Sudan and Yemen. In Malaysia, the Homosexual can be put in prison for 20
years.

Excerpts from Iranian Islamic penal law:
ARTICLE 112:
IF A MATURE MAN OF SOUND MIND COMMITS SEXUAL INTERCOURSE WITH AN IMMATURE
PERSON, THE DOER WILL BE KILLED AND THE PASSIVE ONE WILL Be SUBJECT TO
TA`AZIR
OF 74 LASHES IF NOT UNDER DURESS.
ARTICLE 113:
IF AN IMMATURE PERSON COMMITS SEXUAL INTERCOURSE WITH ANOTHER IMMATURE
PERSON, BOTH OF THEM WILL BE SUBJECT TO TA`AZIR OF 74 LASHES UNLESS ONE OF
THEM WAS UNDER DURESS.
Stop Fueling the Terrorists – former CIA Director James Woolsey says if the Bush administration wants to win the war on terrorism, the United States must become independent of Middle East oil
Someone in England stands up and says the truth. Read this from the Sun.
Some damn good music.
A suicide bomber blew himself up Wednesday afternoon at a busy intersection outside the Israeli-Arab city of Umm el Fahm, killing a police officer and wounding three people. JPost.
Also today, Arab terrorists opened fire on an Israel vehicle in northern Samaria Wednesday killing one Israeli and lightly wounding another.
In addition, Israeli police said the charred body of David Buchbut, a 67 Israeli man, resident of Ma'aleh Adumim (a beautiful suburb of Jerusalem) was discovered inside a trash receptacle in the Arab village of el-Azaria, just east of Jerusalem this morning. Buchbut had a gunshot wound to the head. Police believe that his death is a result of a terror attack. The victim’s family reported their loved one missing on Tuesday night, when he failed to return home from his place of employment in el-Azaria. Authorities are theorizing at this time that the victim knew his attackers.
Source.

Tuesday, September 17, 2002

MYTH

“The creation of the state of Israel in 1948 changed political and border arrangements between independent states that had existed for centuries.”

FACT

The boundaries of Middle East countries were arbitrarily fixed by the Western powers after Turkey was defeated in World War I and the French and British mandates were set up. The areas allotted to Israel under the UN partition plan had all been under the control of the Ottomans, who had ruled Palestine from 1517 until 1917.

When Turkey was defeated in World War I, the French took over the area now known as Lebanon and Syria. The British assumed control of Palestine and Iraq. In 1926, the borders were redrawn and Lebanon was separated from Syria.

Britain installed the Emir Faisal, who had been deposed by the French in Syria, as ruler of the new kingdom of Iraq. In 1922, the British created the emirate of Transjordan, which incorporated all of Palestine east of the Jordan River. This was done so that the Emir Abdullah, whose family had been defeated in tribal warfare in the Arabian peninsula, would have a Kingdom to rule. None of the countries that border Israel became independent until this century. Many other Arab nations became independent after Israel.
More Myths and Facts.
A roundup of hate speech spewed by Our Enemies the Saudis.
Father of Baghdad Bomb Sees Work Continuing
Dr. Khidir Hamza was regarded as the "father" of the Iraqi nuclear program until fleeing to the United States in 1994. He is convinced that Iraqi nuclear weapons development has continued. "Inspectors since 1991 have gone to the [Tuwaitha nuclear] site to check things out and have walked right past our locked room where we were working on enrichment,” Dr. Hamza said. UN inspectors, according to Dr. Hamza, failed to uncover most of the clandestine work that now threatens the West and the rest of the Middle East. (Times - UK)
The Arabs' Crocodile Tears for Saddam - Amir Taheri (Jerusalem Post)

The Arabs have now concluded that Washington is no longer bluffing and that President Bush is determined to topple Saddam Hussein.
Washington's Arab allies have assured it in private that, as long as a diplomatic fig leaf is provided by the United Nations, they would do nothing to oppose military action against Saddam Hussein.
To calm those who fear an Iranian land-grab in Iraq, Iran has 2.5 million Arabs of its own and would not wish to add a further 15 million Iraqi Arabs, even though they are Shiites. Similar assurances have come from Turkey, which has no wish to add five million Iraqi Kurds to its own 15 million-strong Kurdish community.
Far from being short of operational bases for attacking Saddam, the Americans have an embarrassment of riches. Apart from the Saudi and Kuwaiti bases that may or may not be needed, there is the new giant-size multi-purpose base in al-Udaid, Qatar. There are also a string of smaller bases on the island of Massirah and in the Ras Mussandam peninsula, in the Sultanate of Oman, plus reserve facilities in Sharjah, in the United Arab Emirates. Then there is the new "facility" nearing completion in Assab, Eritrea. The U.S. has some form of military cooperation with all Arab states with the exception of Libya, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq.
One finds little evidence of any grassroots support for Saddam in the Arab world. He has antagonized traditional Islamists by preaching Ba'athism, seen as an invention of Christian Arabs. Radical Islamists have little love for him because he attacked Iran in 1980. Pan-Arab nationalists are suspicious of him because he has killed more Nasserists than anyone in history. The Arab left detests him because of his ruthless destruction of the left in Iraq.
The author, an Iranian journalist, is editor of the Paris-based Politique Internationale.
How Iraq Played Cat & Mouse - Chris Cobb (Ottawa Citizen)
When teams of UN weapons inspectors began visiting Iraq in the aftermath of the Gulf War 11 years ago, the elaborate cat-and-mouse game played by the Iraqis was confirmed by high-flying U2 reconnaissance cameras.
At more than one facility targeted for inspection, a convoy of white UN vehicles is recorded heading toward the front gate while a convoy of black Iraqi military vehicles sneaks out the back.
"Iraq lied about almost everything," said Raymond Zilinskas, a biological weapons expert who was on three inspection teams.
A Celebration of Terror
On Wednesday, a thousand Muslims gathered at the Finsbury Park mosque in London to "celebrate" the bombing of the World Trade Center. Chairing the meeting was Abu Hamza, who presides over the mosque. Several of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay who were captured fighting for the Taliban and al Qaeda had received their theological training at Finsbury Park. Hamza also reportedly recruited Richard Reid, the would-be shoe-bomber. The FBI has applied for Hamza's extradition, but he is still at large. (Wall Street Journal)
Hebrew U. Bomb Was Planted Twice (AP)
The bomb that killed five Americans and four Israelis at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem on July 31 was first planted three days earlier, but failed to go off, Israeli media reported Friday.
According to the official indictment, one of the four suspects planted the bomb at the university's Frank Sinatra cafeteria on July 28, and tried to set it off by remote control, using a cellphone. When the device did not explode, he retrieved it, had it repaired, and planted it again on July 31.
U.S. Weapons Ship Arrives in Israel (Maariv)
On Saturday evening, the U.S. cargo vessel Green Waves arrived in Ashdod port carrying 228 containers of bombs and ammunition to be stored in Israel for possible use by U.S. forces operating against Iraq.