We offer peace and amity to all the neighbouring states and their peoples, and invite them to cooperate with the independent Jewish nation for the common good of all. The State of Israel is ready to contribute its full share to the peaceful progress and development of the Middle East. (From Proclamation of the State of Israel, 5 Iyar 5708; 14 May 1948)

Monday, 31 January 2011

What the Egyptian Protests May Portend

Professor Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. Below is his “An Interview on the Egyptian Revolt: I'm Worried That Others Aren't Worried”:

1) How do you judge the Egyptian protests?
It is tempting to see this as a revolution that will bring down the regime. But Egypt is not Tunisia. And while the demonstrations are passionate it is not clear that the numbers of participants are huge. If the elite and the army hold together they could well prevail, perhaps by removing Mubarak to save the regime. We should be cautious in drawing conclusions.

2) Do you see the threat of an Islamist takeover by the Ikhwan?
So far the uprising has not been led by the Muslim Brotherhood. But it is the only large organized opposition group. It is hard to see how it would not be the leading force after a while. The leadership would have to decide that it is facing a revolutionary situation and that this is the moment for an all-out effort. But if it does so and fails there will be a terrible repression and the group will be crushed. It appears that the Brotherhood is joining the protests but has not made its basic decision yet. In the longer term if the regime is completely overthrown I do believe the Brotherhood will emerge as the leader and perhaps the ruler of the country.

3) Do you see any chances that Egypt will witness the same model of Iran of 1979, the democratic protests followed by an Islamist rule?
Absolutely yes. On one hand, so far they lack a charismatic leader. On the other hand, alternative non-Islamist leadership is probably weaker than it was in Iran. Remember also that the Iranian revolution went on for almost a year, with the Islamists emerging as leaders only after five or six months. Many experts predicted that moderate democrats would emerge as rulers and said an Islamist regime was impossible but that isn't what happened. I very much hope I am wrong.

4) How the Arab status quo can be reformed and changed without letting the Jihadist fanatics take power? Is it possible to have democracy and liberalism?
One would need strong leaders, strong organizations, an ability to repress opposition, a clear program, and unity, among other things. None of this is present on the moderate democratic side. Again, I wish it was otherwise. More than any other country, reformers –  though not all of them –  have believed they can work with and then manipulate the Islamists. That seems like a mistake.

The chances for democracy and liberalism are different in every country. Tunisia has a good chance because there is a strong middle class and a weak Islamist movement. But in Egypt look at the numbers in the latest Pew poll. http://pewglobal.org/2010/12/02/muslims-around-the-world-divided-on-hamas-and-hezbollah/
In Egypt, 30 percent like Hizballah (66 percent don’t); 49 percent are favorable toward Hamas (48 percent are negative); and 20 percent smile (72 percent frown) at al-Qaida. Roughly speaking, one-fifth of Egyptians applaud the most extreme Islamist terrorist group, while around one-third back revolutionary Islamists abroad. This doesn’t tell us what proportion of Egyptians want an Islamist government at home, but it is an indicator.

In Egypt, 82 percent want stoning for those who commit adultery; 77 percent would like to see whippings and hands cut off for robbery; and 84 percent favor the death penalty for any Muslim who changes his religion.

Asked if they supported “modernizers” or “Islamists” only 27 percent said modernizers while 59 percent said Islamists.

Is this meaningless? Last December 20 I wrote that these “horrifying figures in Egypt…one day might be cited to explain an Islamist revolution there….What this analysis also shows is that a future Islamist revolution in Egypt and Jordan is quite possible.

5) What kind of threat does the Muslim Brotherhood network pose to Israel and the Western democracies?
In power? A huge threat: renewed warfare, overwhelming anti-Americanism, efforts to spread revolution to other moderate states, a potential alignment with Iran and Syria (though that might not happen), incredible damage to Western interests. In short, a real disaster. What shocks me is that Western media and experts seem so carried away by this movement they are only considering a best-case outcome. As I suggested, I would prefer things were otherwise but I am deeply worried and one of the things I'm worried about is that others don't seem to be worried.

The website of the GLORIA Center is at http://www.gloria-center.org/and of Barry Rubin's blog, Rubin Reports, http://www.rubinreports.blogspot.com/

In a “Mindset” Lustily – Al Beeb and “Inconvenient Truths”

“How do we put the war between the Jews and the Arabs into context? It takes far too long and with shorthand we risk leaving something out, so we don’t bother. And that’s what causes problems.” The writer is former BBC journalist Bernie Choudhury, suddenly raising that subject in a blog of his that’s been reposted for the benefit of students  – or should I say liberal left-propagandists-in-training?  – at Al Beeb’s College of Journalism (CoJo) headed “Inconvenient Truths”.

The main thrust of the blog concerns what Mr Choudhury considers an out-of-context report in The Times which showed that of 86 men convicted of grooming young British girls for sex, 83 were Muslims. What context he wants – whether he’d like to see more slanted truths from Al Beeb’s very own Jeremy Bowen – such as Jezza’s prejudice-flawed documentary “The Birth of Israel” http://honestreporting.com/the-bbcs-birthday-present-to-israel-2/  (the one that earned Jezza a ticking off from the BBC Trust, over which Jezza remains sore and defiant: "As Middle East editor for the BBC, I'm under pressure from lobbyists. I am recognised by my peers as also being able to stick to my guns” http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/jun/10/jeremy-bowen-attacks-bbc-trust), is not enlarged upon.

It’s interesting, incidentally, that Mr Choudhury mentions that when, some years ago, he “reported on racial divisions in Oldham and how mainly Pakistani young men were trying to create no-go zones for white people,” he “was condemned by some BBC colleagues for playing into the hands of the BNP – and called other names too – even though in every conversation I put in the caveats that it was a minority and possible bravado.” http://www.bbc.co.uk/journalism/blog/2011/01/inconvenient-truths.shtml

Rather underlines what Peter Sissons recently revealed in the Daily Mail – that Al Beeb has a built-in liberal-leftie “mindset” – doesn’t it?

I thought of the “mindset” so well-delineated by Mr Sissons , and the BBC’s reliance for news analysis on the Guardian newpaper that he confirmed, when – as soon as Al Grauniad announced it was posting the “Palestine Papers” Al Beeb was slavering over Al Grauniad’s Middle East editor, Ian Black, for all the dirt.  (Al Beeb and Al Grauniad hand-in-glove?  You betcha!)

And in his BBC blog (25 January) on what the "Palestine Papers" reveal about the "refugee" issue, another of Al Beeb’s correspondents, Mark Urban, chose to quote Al Grauniad’s Jonathan Freedland regarding the Israeli government: "they didn't know how to take 'yes' for an answer".
http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/newsnight/

The “mindset” is apparent in a blog (24 January) by BBC Radio 4 The World Tonight presenter Robin Lustig (pictured) suggesting how we might view the leaked “Palestine Papers”. That’s the same Radio 4, incidentally, which as that fine website Biased BBC has very recently demonstrated, shows in its religious programming a marked and quite outrageous preference for Muslim issues and for Muslim participants over any other creed or set of believers.

Anyway, Mr Lustig, on his BBC blog of 24 January (Sissons criticised this blogging mania on the part of Al Beeb’s staff, since it intrudes partisan commentary into what should be strictly objective reportage) he itemises ways in which we might view the “Palestine Papers” :

‘1. The Negotiators as Traitors: what right did the Palestinian negotiators have to offer so much to Israel in return for so little? Nearly all of east Jerusalem? Joint control of the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount, the third holiest place in Islam? No right to defend their own territory with their own armed forces? No right of return for Palestinian refugees? That's not negotiating ... that's surrendering.
2. The Negotiators as Statesmen: Look how far they were prepared to go. Look at the painful concessions they were prepared to make. How can the Israelis claim they have no "partner" to negotiate with when these papers show the exact opposite to be the case? How can anyone argue now that it's the Palestinians who are being unreasonable?
3. The Negotiations as Charade: Doesn't this just prove what a waste of time this whole so-called "peace process" is? Who do these negotiators represent, other than themselves? If their Fatah party were to be tested in elections, they'd be wiped out - and they know it. Besides, they don't even control the Gaza Strip, so nothing they supposedly "offer" will matter a damn. In any case, they still don't get it. Israel will give up not an inch of Jerusalem, and will never agree to anything that might threaten its existence.’
Well, there’s a fourth option that evidently didn’t penetrate the “mindset” that seems intent on exerting mind control – the option so well articulated by another Robin, the admirable Mr Shepherd, whose stalwart defence of Israel cost him his job at Chatham House:

‘Game over. No way back. An entire edifice of anti-Israeli demonisation definitively consigned to the scrap heap, never to be recycled again. This is the uncompromising message that comes out of yesterday’s revelations on Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. To the horror of a European political intelligentsia which has been steadfast to the point of fanatical in its opposition to Israeli “settlements” in east Jerusalem, the Palestinian leadership itself, we now know, has long accepted that the vast majority of Israeli settlements can be considered legitimate and would become part of Israel under any reasonable peace agreement.
This is utterly devastating since it simultaneously shows that everyone from the British Foreign Office and the BBC to the European Commission and the continent’s passionately anti-Israeli NGO community have been adopting a position which was significantly more uncompromising on “settlements” than the Palestinian leadership itself, and also that that same Palestinian leadership had accepted that the so called 1967 “borders” – the gold standard for practically every anti-Israeli polemic around – are irrelevant to the prospects of a lasting peace….
Privately and morally, senior Palestinians can see that there is nothing illegitimate or even especially problematic about most of the “settlements”, (as reasonable observers of the MidEast have been saying for years). This we know from the leaks themselves. But publicly and politically they cannot sell such concessions to their own people. This we know because they are currently trying to distance themselves from the leaks, and because they educate their own people in an implacable rejectionism which extends to the “moderate” Palestinian authority glorifying suicide bombers and other terrorists by naming streets and squares after them.
Logically and reasonably, the Israeli response is to see such “concessions” for what they are: well intentioned in so far as they go, but impossible to implement in practice. Quite apart from the question of Hamas-run Gaza, the Palestinians have been playing the same old game of saying one thing to one audience and something else to another. They are not a credible partner for peace, and the Israelis do not look remotely “churlish” for understanding this.
It will be interesting to see how this whole affair now plays out. But never again can the anti-Israel community play the settlement card and at the same time retain a single ounce of credibility.'
Robin Shepherd blasts the Guardian in this whole Palileaks affair as being “more hardline against Israel than the Palestinian leadership itself” and reminds us that the Palestinian Authority’s leader, Mahmoud Abbas, has denied the Holocaust. “The only conceivable way out of this for the anti-Israel community,” Shepherd goes on,
“ is to turn this all upside down and argue – as analysts, reporters (anyone they can get their hands on) have been doing on the BBC all day –  that what this really shows is the extent of Israeli “intransigence”: the Palestinians offer all these concessions, and still the Israelis say no! This was the line adopted by Paul Danahar, the BBC’s MidEast bureau chief, who quite casually averred that, “The Israelis look churlish for turning down major concessions”.’
http://www.robinshepherdonline.com/british-foreign-office-bbc-european-liberal-left-devastated-by-leaked-revelations-on-israeli-settlements-guardian-furious-at-%e2%80%9cweak%e2%80%9d-and-%e2%80%9ccraven%e2%80%9d-palestinian-leadersh/#more-3716

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Pollard on Palileaks and Sacerdoti on Israel, the PA, and Current Middle East Developments

Full marks to Jewish Chronicle editor Stephen Pollard for his robust denunciation, in the 27 January issue of his paper, of the despicable way in which the Guardian spun the leaked memos by PA negotiators with Israel that comprise the so-called “Palestine Papers”.

‘The Guardian's behaviour this week, even by its own often disreputable standards over Israel, has been simply shocking,’ Mr Pollard writes, inter alia.
‘Not presented them so much as lobbed them, doused with petrol, into a tinderbox – and hoped for a result....
What is very wrong is the way the paper chose to present its story: the distortions, the bias, the agenda, the spin and the breathtaking arrogance of its handing down instructions to the Palestinians of how they should behave. Make no mistake: the Guardian's presentation was, as David Landau puts it, "intended to poison the Palestinians against their leaders". And to poison the world against Israel....The Guardian crossed a line this week. It has not practised journalism but rather hardcore political activism, playing with people's lives.’
See the entire editorial here: http://www.thejc.com/blogpost/guardians-shame

And here’s Jonathan Sacerdoti, executive director of the UK Zionist Federation, in a discussion with Guardian journalist Polly Toynbee, London-based Palestinian editor Abdel Bari Atwan, and others on BBC News 24's "Dateline London" programme today. 
(Hat tip: Jonathan Hoffman)

Friday, 28 January 2011

'Where is the "J'Accuse"?': Binyamin Netanyahu's Yom HaShoah Speech in the Knesset

Here, in English translation, are Bibi's eloquent reflections this week on the Holocaust and its contemporary implications, especially as regards antisemitism and the Iranian nuclear threat (hat tip: Jonathan Hoffman http://www.thejc.com/blogpost/holocaust-memorial-day-bibis-speech-knesset)

'Have the lessons of the Holocaust been learned?

For us, the Jewish people, the answer is yes.

For the rest of the world, the answer is no, or at least not yet.

Today, 66 years after the horror, we are here, in Jerusalem, the eternal capital of our nation. We, the representatives of the Jewish nation, are holding a special ceremony to mark the International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The lesson that we have learned, first of all, is that we are here, in our sovereign country, in our capital city.

We have learned another important lesson, probably the most crucial lesson to be learned from the atrocity, from the chain of atrocities that brought about one much worse; this has continued for hundreds and thousands of years, since we lost our country and our sovereignty, and since we lost our capability to defend ourselves. The lesson learned was that we had to restore the capacity of the State and the army for self-defense.

This lesson was understood by Herzl even before the great atrocity took place. He foresaw it, and we implemented it.

But there is one other lesson. At the end of the Holocaust, there were 11 million Jews in the world. Before it, there were 18 million.

Even at a very slow rate of natural increase of the population, there should have been almost 30 million Jews in the world, but in fact, there are only 13.5 million; much less, half of what there should be. This did not happen by physical loss; it happened because of assimilation and the loss of identity.

The only place where the Jewish people has grown is here, in Eretz Yisrael, in the State of Israel. We have continuous substantial and blessed growth. There is no nation that could live on a demographic pin head. Therefore, while cultivating our country, we must continue to encourage aliyah, bringing Jewish people to Israel, and to prevent their assimilation abroad. All the projects that we operate - Birthright, Masa and also Moreshet - are aimed at our young adults and also young Jews abroad. They are essential elements in assuring our future.

Have we learned the lesson? The answer is yes. Has the world learned the lesson? Well, I think one thing is clear: the fact that global antisemitism is renewing and expanding is obvious. If anyone thought that antisemitism stopped after World War II and the Holocaust, it is now evident that it was only a hiatus. The same forces that you mentioned joining together, share a new/old antisemitism with the world, and so we must fight it, globally too. For that, I congratulate my friend Silvan Shalom, who, when serving as Foreign Minister, brought about an important United Nations resolution - marking this day, a resolution which was adopted by the UN.

This resolution is indeed implemented in many countries, which is an important achievement and in many ways also unique, at least in the ability to propose an Israeli draft resolution to this organization, which I am well familiar with, I spent a long time there. It was a milestone. But I still ask: does the world that condemns that antisemitism also condemn this antisemitism?

Every now and then, very feebly - it isn't just antisemitism; it is the regime - a member country of the UN, the regime of ayatollahs - stands up and knowingly and openly calls for the annihilation of at least another six million Jews, without even a hint of pretence. And nobody says a thing. Well, that's not exact. Here and there a comment might be heard, but where is the anger, the outrage? Where is the outcry? Where is the "J'accuse?" I'm not asking about us. We are here; we've learned our lessons. But where is the global uproar that should have risen from advanced communities around the world in response to explicit declarations of genocide, of exterminating a people, that same people! [My emphasis]

We must be honest with each other. Diplomacy is, first and foremost, identifying the situation as it is. If we want to change it, we must understand it. And we have a very disturbing historical phenomenon. I don't think that it is only hard for us, but for all civilized people, all civilized peoples, who allow such an affliction, such statements, such savagery, barbarism and primitivism to be uttered and spread. It is said; it spreads, becomes acceptable, commonplace, and always prepares the ground for the next action and also prevents those actions that will not take place.

I am aware that there are many leaders and good-hearted, conscientious people around the world. I know that they think what I think. I know that in their hearts, they tell themselves what I am saying today from this podium.

However, that will not suffice. Because in the face of this regime, that calls for our annihilation, and arms itself with weapons of mass destruction in order to fulfill its nefarious intentions, there should be a much stronger protest. This makes me somewhat disheartened, my friend Silvan.

I was in that institution, I served in it as the representative of Israel. One day I heard that there were rumours about a file about Waldheim, who was then President of Austria. It might have been the Secretary-General of the UN. The Secretary-General said he had a profile about a war criminal in some UN archive.

What was this archive? It turned out that there was a war criminal archive instituted by Churchill and the Allies during the war to collect material against Nazi criminals and their collaborators. They gathered the information, and listened and discussed and prepared the files and at the end of the war they took these files, brought them to the UN, and locked them in the basement, where they just lay for decades.

I asked if I could go in there, and they said "No." I asked why, and was told that I needed the consent of all the allied countries, 18 or 19 countries, I think, and there was no such approval. Well, it took me a year until I got the okay and was taken to the archive.

It wasn't exactly in the basement, it was on the first floor of a UN building somewhere in New York. I walk in and see boxes upon boxes; I go to 'W,' pull out the box: Waldheim, Kurt, and various notes. My hair stood on end (I had more hair then). Horrible things, lying there, hidden for dozens of years. I look at the next file (I didn't start taking boxes out, it was the same box): Birkenau 1944, records of exterminations, the death marches, trains, the SS, it's all documented. 1944, but I think I also saw files that referred to 1943.

My friends, these 18 countries, perhaps the best statesmen in history, distinguished men, truly great men - they knew. They knew in real time, and not from this particular testimony that I have just mentioned. There are plenty of testimonies: terrible things that are very hard to read. They knew, but they did not act.

Why did they not act? Because they were busy fighting the major battle against the Nazis, which was their main concern. But how hard would it have been to bomb the railway tracks leading to the death camps? When you go there, and many of you have been there - I was there with some of you, several times - you see they could have bombed the camps. They were already bombing that awful chemical plant only seconds away. They would only have needed to tilt the plane a bit and could also have bombed the ramp and two incinerators, and the tracks. It wouldn't have made the slightest difference to their war effort. They knew and they did nothing.

Today they are very aware of it. They know, they hear, they see, they photograph. You don't need special intelligence, you only need to turn on the television, hear the news, read the newspaper. Will they act? Will they talk? Will they really talk? Will they attack? Will they condemn?

The Iranians say that it's against the Zionists, anti-Zionism. It was Martin Luther King who burst that bubble better than anyone else. He said, and I quote: "When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You're talking antisemitism!"

Martin Luther King. That's right. So that's what the Iranians say. But this is the truth. It is not only a threat against us, because it always begins with the Jews but never ends with the Jews. The hatred of Jews kindles an overall fire, and I expect that on this day, when I applaud the world for marking the most heinous crime in world history and the history of our people which was perpetrated against our people - I hope others will also learn the lesson. We already have.

I expect the world to learn the lesson and start fighting in words and in deeds against the new antisemitism. That is what I expect and I am certain, my friends, that you expect the same.'

Thursday, 27 January 2011

A London Professor Defends Palestinian Terror

London’s University College (UCL), was founded in the 1820s in order to provide non-Anglicans with the university degrees denied to them by Oxford and Cambridge at that time. Prominent among its founders was a celebrated Jewish philanthropist and civil rights promoter, Sir Isaac Lyon Goldsmid. Alas, today University College is one of the cesspools of anti-Israel activism that are such a feature of England’s once so green and pleasant land, especially in that “mecca of delegitimisation,” Londonistan.

Edgar (“Ted”) Honderich (born 30 January 1933), formerly Grote Professor of Mind and Logic at UCL – no folks, he’s not Jewish – is the author of two post 9/11 books in which he assails Israel. He’s an arch-opponent of what he calls “neo-Zionism” – to describe Israel’s “expansionist” actions from 1967, it would seem – as witness an interview he gave to that anti-Zionist and increasingly antisemitic rag the Guardian (which needless to say lapped that word up) a few years ago http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2005/mar/22/academicexperts.highereducationprofile – and is on record as saying:

“You could define 'terrorism' to pick out only and exactly Palestinian self-defence – which of course it also is – and hence use 'non-terrorism' to cover neo-Zionism. That would not commit you to condemning the first and justifying the second. My further and connected aspiration or hope is to contribute to the struggle against neo-Zionism, a struggle I regard as in a sense sacred....
I know full well, and have never doubted, the resolute rapacity of at least many leaders of the Jewish people from before 1948 to 1967 and of course after. That does not affect what is to me the fact that a certain project, a certain possible line of action, Zionism in my definition, was right in 1948, for certain reasons which include the Holocaust, and is right now, partly for the reason of the Jewish homeland that has come into existence. Maybe there are general questions in moral philosophy here, but I don't quite see what they are. I am of course a consequentialist. That is, I judge the rightness of actions by their probable consequences. Maybe things become clearer when I allow that I think that I would in 1947 have supported actions of Ben Gurion, taking them as likely to forward Zionism in my sense, as distinct from neo-Zionism, even if I know his own intentions were otherwise, in fact rapacious....
My concern for and empathy with the Palestinians, as you will guess, is not small. My feeling for the Palestinians of 1948 is not slight. But the Jews in 1948 also existed. They could weep too. The plain necessity, more often admitted than stuck to, is to keep two sets of human facts in view. Certainly an injustice of terrible proportions -- an inhumanity – was done to the Palestinians. Certainly Israel has not come within sight of compensating them. It has not done anything like what has been done by the Germans for the Jews for a related reason – the Holocaust.” http://www.stateofnature.org/tedHonderich.html
Emeritus Professor Honderich has written a letter to the Guardian (26 January) in the light of its publication of “The Palestine Papers”. Pontificates Honderich:

“The revelations in detail (Report, 25 January) of the intransigent greed, the escape from decency, of Israeli governments in negotiation with our selected leaders of the Palestinians, serve one purpose among others. They provide a further part of what is now an overwhelming argument for a certain proposition. It is that the Palestinians have a moral right to their terrorism within historic Palestine against neo-Zionism. The latter, neither Zionism nor of course Jewishness, is the taking from the Palestinians of at least their autonomy in the last one-fifth of their historic homeland. Terrorism, as in this case, can as exactly be self-defence, a freedom struggle, martyrdom, the conclusion of an argument based on true humanity, etc.”

Some mind. Some logic.

Read more:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jan/26/critics-should-respect-my-decision?INTCMP=SRCH
http://justjournalism.com/the-wire/palestine-papers-ucl-professor-declares-support-for-palestinian-terrorism/

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

An Aussie Doc’s Role in the Birth of Israel

January 26 – Australia Day. So come Down Under down Memory Lane...

Dr Herbert Vere (“Doc”) Evatt (1894-1965; pictured below) was a bright working-class lad from Maitland, New South Wales, who was educated at school and university in Sydney and became a lawyer and QC. From 1925-30 he was an ALP (Labour) state legislator, and from 1930-40 was a judge of the High Court of Australia. He then became a member of Australia’s House of Representatives, and in 1941, when John Curtin’s ALP government was elected to power, Evatt was appointed Attorney-General and Minister for External Affairs (the equivalent of Foreign Minister). In 1945 he was instrumental in founding the United Nations, going on to help to draft the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights. President of the UN General Assembly during 1948-49, he was prominent in the negotiations that resulted in the birth of Israel.

During the 1940s, Evatt drew close to the prominent Sydney Zionist leader Max Freilich as well as to New South Wales state politician Abram Landa, another exponent of the Zionist cause, whose brother had been a fellow law student with Evatt, and by the autumn of 1945 the “Doc” – as "Bert" Evatt was widely known – was telling colleagues in the Department of External Affairs that the Jewish People must and would have a homeland very soon, that they “had full historical rights in Palestine” and that “If the Arabs refused to permit the essential conditions of this home for the Jews then the UN must decree it and guarantee it.” The following year, in Canberra, Evatt confided to the Jewish Agency’s Michael Comay (destined to be Israel’s ambassador to the UN, 1960-67, and to Britain, 1970-73) that he was opposed to British policy in Palestine, although he couldn’t yet come out publicly for Partition.

In September 1947, the UN General Assembly established an Ad Hoc Committee on Palestine, with representation from all member states. Meeting at Lake Success, upstate New York, under Evatt’s chairmanship, it set up two sub-committees of nine members each – one supporting the Partition of Palestine and one advocating instead a unitary state. After input from advocates of each viewpoint, a vote on 25 November by the Ad Hoc Committee voted by 25 votes to 13 (with 17 abstentions) in favour of Partition.

Owing to Evatt’s exertions, lobbying behind the scenes like his friend Freilich, the crucial two-thirds majority needed when the UN General Assembly voted on the issue on 29 November was attained – by 33 votes to 13 with nine abstentions including Britain’s – the proposal to partition Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab States (and with UN control of the holy sites, including Jerusalem). He insisted that “the decision of a competent international conference should be accepted after there has been a full and fair debate, and a settlement has been reached” – something today’s odious delegitimisers would do well to bear in mind.

Following Ben Gurion’s Declaration of the State of Israel on 14 May 1948, British pressure resulted in Australia delaying recognition until 29 January 1949, when – unlike Britain, which accorded only de facto recognition – Australia accorded Israel both de facto and de jure. Evatt had become President of the UN General Assembly in September 1948, and was in office when, in May 1949, the GA followed the Security Council’s example of March in voting to admit Israel to UN membership. (His friend Abram Landa had just joined Australia’s delegation at his instigation.)

Israel’s UN representative Abba Eban wrote to Evatt on 18 May 1949:
"We are deeply indebted to the Australian Delegation for its consistent and effective support of our cause in the Assembly and its organs through all the stages of the consideration of our problem by the United Nations. We are grateful to you for the decisive part you played in the proceedings. It was under your competent and determined chairmanship that the Ad Hoc Committee on Palestine during the annual session of 1947, adopted the plan which was embodied in the historic Resolution of November 29th...
Finally, it was again under your chairmanship and thanks in so large measure to your determined lead that Israel was admitted to the United Nations when barely a year old. The manner in which you steered to a vote the second historic Resolution, representing as it does the culmination of the process initiated by the first, the warmth and eloquence with which you welcomed Israel into the family of nations, have earned for you the undying gratitude of our people.”
On his return to Australia Evatt was fêted by the Zionist Organisation, and likened to Arthur Balfour – “This is the second time in modern Jewish history when the Jews have been able to gather in happiness to honour a great British [sic] statesman” (Australians were still regarded, and widely regarded themselves, as overseas Britons, and Britain was the Motherland that most of them still called “Home”).

In 1960 Evatt presented to Moriah College, a Jewish day school in Sydney, a plate depicting the Twelve Tribes that Israel had given him in 1948 in appreciation of his efforts on its behalf.

Only Israel is "Free": The Lamentable Lack of Political and Civil Rights in the Arab World

From the antipodean J-Wire news service, the following article, entitled “Palestine and the Arab League – Fake Freedom Fighters,” is by Sydney lawyer and international affairs analyst David Singer.
The Palestinian Authority, Hamas and the Arab League member states continue to deny their populations basic political rights and civil liberties – according to a Report recently published by Freedom House. At the same time the Arab League is mounting an intensive campaign to delegitimize Israel – the only state in the Middle East where such freedoms exist.The Freedom House report is an annual survey of global political rights and civil liberties carried out in 194 countries and 14 territories around the World.

Freedom House defines itself as:

“ an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.”

In determining what constitutes “political rights” and “civil liberties” – Freedom House has drawn from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights the following components of freedom which include an individual’s ability to:

Participate freely in the political process;
Vote freely in legitimate elections;
Have representatives that are accountable to them;
Exercise freedoms of expression and belief;
Be able to freely assemble and associate;
Have access to an established and equitable system of rule of law;
Have social and economic freedoms, including equal access to economic opportunities and the right to hold private property.
Freedom House has determined that 18 of the 22 Arab League member states all rate very poorly and fall into the category of being “Not Free” which is defined as :

“…one where basic political rights are absent and basic civil liberties are widely and systematically denied.”
The remaining four Arab League members are categorized as being “Partly Free” being countries which are defined as :

“characterised by some restrictions on political rights and civil liberties – often in the context of corruption, weak rule of law, ethnic strife or civil law.”
Israel is the only State in the Middle East that is identified as being “Free,” meaning:

“a country where there is broad scope for open political political competition, a climate of respect for civil liberties, significant independent civic life and independent media”.
As Latin American States apparently fall over themselves to accord recognition to a non-existent Palestinian State in total contravention of international law as prescribed by the Montevideo Convention – it is time for them – and others who might be similarly minded – to ponder

what kind of State they are promoting and
the extent to which such State does not accord with the principles laid down in the Road Map – the basis on which all negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority have been conducted for the last seven years under the auspices of America, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations
The Road Map articulated that any such Palestinian State must be “democratic” as was made clear by the following provisions:

“A two state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will only be achieved through an end to violence and terrorism, when the Palestinian people have a leadership acting decisively against terror and willing and able to build a practicing democracy based on tolerance and liberty, and through Israel’s readiness to do what is necessary for a democratic Palestinian state to be established…
A settlement, negotiated between the parties, will result in the emergence of an independent, democratic, and viable Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with Israel and its other neighbors.”
The Freedom House Report notes that the Palestinian Authority controls up to 40% of the West Bank territory and 98% of the Palestinian population outside of East Jerusalem. Hamas controls 100% of Gaza as well as its entire population.

Any signs of a a leadership acting decisively to build a practising democracy based on tolerance and liberty in either the West Bank or Gaza is totally absent according to the Freedom House Report.

The current push for recognition of “Palestine” as an independent State is becoming an exercise in creating yet another State whose citizens will continue to be denied the basic freedoms and civil liberties that are currently enjoyed by some of its current democratic proponents – Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay.

That was clearly not the objective of the Road Map – to which those Latin American States gave their support in 2003.

Since it still supposedly remains the only game in town prescribing the “two-state solution” – the Road Map is rapidly ending up as a document that is not worth the paper it is written on espouses a democratic state that will not be achieved and has been rejected as the basis of a two-state solution by some democratic countries who have now decided to assign the civilian populations of the West Bank and Gaza to the same fate as all the surrounding Arab populations in the Middle East Arab States.

The Arab League meantime fails to recognize Israel and pursues campaigns encouraging boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel – whilst at the same time its member states deny their populations the political rights and civil liberties that are enjoyed by Israel’s population – including the 20% of Israel’s population that is Arab.

The Freedom House report stands as a monument to the eternal shame of the Arab League and to those democratic countries who have been seduced into accepting the Arab League’s spurious hate campaign to eradicate the State of Israel.

Fareed Zakaria – the host of CNN’s flagship foreign affairs show, Editor-at-Large of TIME magazine, a Washington Post columnist, and a New York Times bestselling author described by Esquire magazine as “the most influential foreign policy adviser of his generation” – says of the Freedom House Report:

“While there are many sources of economic data, good political data is hard to find. Freedom House’s survey is an exception. For anyone concerned with the state of freedom, or simply with the state of the world, Freedom in the World is an indispensible guide.”
Those democratic States ignoring the clear message contained in the Report and abandoning the signposting in the Road Map are not doing themselves – or the cause of liberating long suffering Arab populations denied their basic political rights and civil liberties – any favours.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Standing Tall, for Now ...

In the world’s most populous Muslim country, Indonesia (the former Dutch East Indies, where Sephardim from Holland settled, to be followed later by Jews from Iraq and Aden) there’s still, despite emigration, assimilation, and worries about Islamism, a tiny Jewish community. It’s divided between Surabayo on Java, which is Indonesia’s second-largest city, and Manado, a city on Sulawesi in a mainly Christian district. Almost infinitesimal in number, the community is so insignificant a presence that Judaism isn’t officially recognised as a religion in the country, where everyone is required to state their membership of either Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism, or the two principal Christian divisions on their state-issued identity cards.
Islamists protesting Israel’s actions in Gaza succeeded in closing down Surabayo’s historic synagogue towards the end of 2009. But in Manado, where about ten worshippers attend what’s consequently Indonesia’s only house of worship, a gigantic menorah, costing $150,000, was erected at public expense that same year on a mountain overlooking the town. The idea was that of a local legislator of Pentecostal Christian faith, hoping to attract tourism and business from Europe. He’d suggested the project after learning of the giant menorah that stands outside the Knesset. But it seems he wasn’t motivated solely by economic considerations – “It is also for the Jewish people to see that there is this sacred symbol, their sacred symbol, outside their country,” he told the New York Times (22 November 2010).

Explained that newspaper:
‘Increasingly strong pro-Jewish sentiments also appear to be an outgrowth of an evangelical and charismatic Christian movement that with the help of American and European missionaries has taken root here in the past decade. Some experts regard this movement as a reaction against the growing role of orthodox Islam in much of the rest of Indonesia.
“In Manado, Christianity has always had a strong identity mark in the belief that it’s opposed to the surrounding sea of Islam,” said Theo Kamsma, a scholar at The Hague University who has studied Manado’s Jewish legacy. Christianity and a reemerging Judaism share a “rebellious” nature, he added.
Two years before the menorah was built, a Christian real estate developer raised a 98-foot-tall statue of Jesus on top of a hill here; the statue is about three-quarters the size of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro. In the town center, churches belonging to a multitude of denominations now sit a few hundred yards apart.
During Dutch colonial rule, Jewish communities were established in major trading cities where they often dealt in real estate, acting as mediators between colonial rulers and locals, said Anthony Reid, a scholar on Southeast Asia at the Australian National University. Given Indonesia’s traditionally moderate Islam, anti-Jewish sentiments were never strong.
“The anti-Jewish feelings really came in the 1980s and 1990s, all because of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” Mr. Reid said.’
Certainly, Islamism is growing in Indonesia, and in Australia Muslim students from Indonesia have been among anti-Israel demonstrators, including ones by extreme Islamists such as members of Hizb ut-Tahrir.

I owe the following to Assad Elepty, of Sydney, a Coptic activist and Islamist-watcher; as to whether the inferences drawn are accurate, that remains to be seen:
'Al-Jazeera’s Arabic-language online newspaper, alJazeera.net, recently published what can only be described as a targeted hit piece against Indonesia’s tiny Jewish community. The article (English here) describes them as, “…provid[ing] unlimited support to the Israeli occupation in Palestine,” and also as being “among the Jewish religious extremists who previously went out in marches supporting the Israeli aggression on Gaza.” Then comes the real kicker: “These Jews have constructed a tower for a menorah in Manadu, which is considered the largest in the world.”
What does this al-Jazeera piece mean? To understand, we must first examine how Islamic law treats non-Muslims. Generally-speaking, non-Muslims living under Muslim rule have two options: die, or convert to Islam (see Qur’an 9.5). However, for Jews and Christians, who are given special status in Islam as the ‘People of the Book [i.e. the Bible]‘, a third option is available: become a dhimmi, or protected person. The basis for this comes from Qur’an 9.29: “Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued” [emphasis added].
Regarding this last phrase, Ibn Kathir, the most widely respected Qur’anic commentator, explains, “Therefore, Muslims are not allowed to honor the people of Dhimmah [i.e. Jews and Christians] or elevate them above Muslims, for they are miserable, disgraced and humiliated.” Jews and Christians living in Muslim countries are to live as second-class citizens. When the caliph ‘Umar entered Jerusalem in the 7th century, he codified this by creating several rules for the conquered Christians to live by, called ‘the Pact of ‘Umar,’ which is the basis for Islam’s treatment of Jewish and Christian minorities today. These rules include, but are not limited to, the following:
• they may not construct new places of worship, or restore old ones;
• they may not teach the Qur’an to their children;
• they may not dress like or otherwise imitate Muslims;
• they must refrain from erecting religious symbols and displaying them outside of their places of worship; and
• they may not prevent any of their people from converting to Islam.
When the Indonesian Jews constructed that towering menorah, they were explicitly breaking the terms of the dhimmi covenant. According to Islamic law, this means they lose their protected status, and it becomes incumbent on Muslims to attack them until they either convert to Islam or are killed.....
We’ve seen how Muslims responded when they believed that Coptic Christians in Egypt had broken their dhimmi covenant. How will they respond to Indonesian Jews breaking that same covenant? Only time will tell, but it certainly points to the danger and threat of violence that constantly hangs over the heads of Jews and Christians living in Muslim countries.'
Read the rest of the article here:
http://bigpeace.com/amutarjim/2011/01/24/the-precarious-position-of-jews-and-christians-in-muslim-countries/
(Hat tip: reader Shirlee)

Monday, 24 January 2011

Boycotting Israel? Your Essential BDS Starter Kit

































 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
The foregoing is dedicated to Marrickville Council in Australia, to the Methodist Church in the UK, to the Presbyterian Church in the USA, and to all those other boycotters and intending boycotters in the still-as-yet-Free World who have so single-mindedly eschewed focusing their energies on ways to bring truly villainous regimes around the world to heel, in order to concentrate on destroying the tiny, democratic, Jihad-imperilled Jewish State.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Mindset, He Wrote – a BBC newsreader confirms Al Beeb’s ideological love-in with The Guardian

We're all too familiar with the BBC's slanted anti-Israel reportage and commentary, courtesy of such incorrigible types as the unlamented Orla Guerin (now based outside the Middle East) and Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen and his acolytes.

Well, retired BBC newsreader Peter Sissons, who fell victim to the otherwise oh-so-politically-correct Al Beeb’s obsession with “yoof” and beauty and consequent compulsion to discard those on-air presenters (especially the female of the species) who refuse the hair tint and the Botox, has written his memoirs. Today’s Daily Mail gives a preview. (Hat tip: Brian of London)

In them, Mr Sissons – certainly one of the most respected and least prima donnarish of Al Beeb’s presenters – writes:

“For 20 years I was a front man at the BBC, anchoring news and current-affairs programmes, so I reckon nobody is better placed than me to answer the question that nags at many of its viewers — is the BBC biased?
In my view, ‘bias’ is too blunt a word to describe the subtleties of the pervading culture. The better word is a ‘mindset’. At the core of the BBC, in its very DNA, is a way of thinking that is firmly of the Left.
By far the most popular and widely read newspapers at the BBC are The Guardian and The Independent. Producers refer to them routinely for the line to take on running stories, and for inspiration on which items to cover. In the later stages of my career, I lost count of the number of times I asked a producer for a brief on a story, only to be handed a copy of The Guardian and told ‘it’s all in there’. [My emphasis]
....
I am in no doubt that the majority of BBC staff vote for political parties of the Left. But it’s impossible to do anything but guess at the numbers whose beliefs are on the Right or even Centre-Right. This is because the one thing guaranteed to damage your career prospects at the BBC is letting it be known that you are at odds with the prevailing and deep-rooted BBC attitude towards Life, the Universe, and Everything. [My emphasis]
At any given time there is a BBC line on everything of importance, a line usually adopted in the light of which way its senior echelons believe the political wind is blowing. This line is rarely spelled out explicitly, but percolates subtly throughout the organisation.
Whatever the United Nations is associated with is good – it is heresy to question any of its activities. The EU is also a good thing, but not quite as good as the UN. Soaking the rich is good, despite well-founded economic arguments that the more you tax, the less you get.  [My emphasis] And Government spending is a good thing, although most BBC people prefer to call it investment, in line with New Labour’s terminology.
All green and environmental groups are very good things. Al Gore is a saint. George Bush was a bad thing, and thick into the bargain. Obama was not just the Democratic Party’s candidate for the White House, he was the BBC’s. Blair was good, Brown bad, but the BBC has now lost interest in both.
Trade unions are mostly good things, especially when they are fighting BBC managers. Quangos are also mostly good, and the reports they produce are usually handled uncritically. The Royal Family is a bore. Islam must not be offended at any price, although Christians are fair game because they do nothing about it if they are offended. [My emphasis]
The increasing tendency for the BBC to interview its own reporters on air exacerbates this mindset. Instead of concentrating on interviewing the leading players in a story or spreading the net wide for a range of views, these days the BBC frequently chooses to use the time getting the thoughts of its own correspondents. It is a format intended to help clarify the facts, but which often invites the expression of opinion. When that happens, instead of hearing both sides of a story, the audience at home gets what is, in effect, the BBC’s view presented as fact.
And, inside the organisation, you challenge that collective view at your peril. In today’s BBC only those whose antennae are fully attuned to the corporation’s cultural mindset – or keep quiet about their true feelings – are going to make progress."
Read more:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1349506/Left-wing-bias-Its-written-BBCs-DNA-says-Peter-Sissons.html#ixzz1BnCrIdJB

Mr Sissons doesn’t mention Al Beeb’s hostility to Israel, but of course it's part and parcel of that mindset that he describes.

He doesn’t tell us what we hadn’t already worked out for ourselves. But it’s empowering to have confirmation from an insider.

And I guess we now know why even Al Beeb's Jewish journalists – at least some of whom are surely more sympathetic to Israel than their egregious employer is – don't challenge Al Beeb's  bias against Israel.  In that insecure environment, they have to look after Number One.

More fool Margaret Thatcher and the Tories, for not privatising Al Beeb when they had the chance.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

An Important Insight into Palestinian Opinion Online

The following article by Jonathan Schanzer, entitled “What Palestinians Are Saying Online”, comes from Middle East Quarterly, Winter 2011, pp. 15-24 http://www.meforum.org/2821/palestinians-online
(hat tip: Assad Elepty)

What Palestinians Are Saying Online

by Jonathan Schanzer

During the past decade, Washington has repeatedly failed to gauge the extent of Palestinian anti-peace sentiments with devastating consequences. The July 2000 Camp David summit triggered the worst wave of Palestinian violence since 1948 (euphemized as the "al-Aqsa Intifada"); the Palestinian parliamentary elections of January 2006 led to a victory for the Hamas Islamist group. Now that President Obama has announced his ambitious timeline for Israeli-Palestinian peace, could the administration be rushing headlong into yet another diplomatic failure?

A recent nine-week study by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) of online Palestinian political sentiments suggests that this could be the case.[1] Palestinian Internet users often derided diplomatic initiatives, and their discussion of the peace process was overwhelmingly negative. More alarmingly, the study revealed several troubling trends among Palestinian social media users—notably the prevalence of Islamism, fissures between factions, and the inability of liberal reformers to be heard—that cast doubt on both the prospects for peace and the likelihood that a democratic Palestinian state will emerge.

Background

For years, reliance on faulty poll data and input from "experts" on the ground has thwarted Washington's ability to take the Palestinian pulse. The George W. Bush administration's decision to support the Palestinian legislative elections in January 2006, for example, was due, in no small part, to polling data that all but guaranteed a Fatah victory over Hamas. The polls were produced primarily by Khalil Shikaki, the director of the Ramallah-based Palestinian Center for Policy and Research, which conducted three studies of Palestinian opinion in June, September, and December 2005. These indicated that Fatah's support among Palestinians ranged from 44 percent to 50 percent while support for Hamas ranged from 32 to 33 percent.[2] "With each new Shikaki poll," Middle East scholar Martin Kramer noted, "U.S. policymakers grew more lax when it came to setting conditions for Hamas participation."[3]

Reliance on these polls proved a grave error, as Hamas won the election by a landslide. The Islamist faction, best known for acts of violence against Israel, claimed 76 of 132 seats (74 under the Hamas banner, plus 2 independents), granting it the right to form a government.[4] In the end, more than one million Palestinians cast their votes in what observers considered a relatively free and fair election—a rarity in the Arab world.

What went wrong? Shikaki's critics alleged that his polls may have been part of Fatah's election strategy to project its strength.[5] But whatever it was that led Washington astray, the outcome of the elections made clear that the U.S. government lacked a reliable read on the Palestinian street. As former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice said of Hamas's victory in congressional testimony, "I've asked why nobody saw it coming … It does say something about us not having a good enough pulse."[6]

Four years later, Washington may still be unable to assess Palestinian allegiances in the West Bank and Gaza, and the stakes are even higher.

General Trends

Despite the fact that their Internet access is free of outside manipulation, most Palestinian activists do not reveal their names online. Indeed, few Palestinians maintain personal Facebook or Twitter accounts, presumably to ensure that their viewpoints or posts cannot be attributed to them directly. Rather, the majority of Palestinian web users engage in political debate on impersonal discussion boards. Writing under pseudonyms, they maintain anonymity while discussing the most heated issues of the day without fear of retribution.

The bulk of Palestinian political discussion online takes place on these web forums, which typically provide space for like-minded people to express their views. For example, some are pro-Hamas (paldf.net) whereas others are pro-Fatah (palvoice.com). And while some sites feature adversarial posts, such as pro-Hamas users posting on Fatah sites, most are dominated by sympathizers of the owner faction.

In a sense, the tribalism and factionalism that traditionally dominate Palestinian society can be observed in the form of similar groupings online. Groups allow individuals to break with their thinking, but only to a point.

Reform Factions

The survey sought, inter alia, to shed light on the desire for political reform in the Palestinian territories, "third party" alternatives to Hamas and Fatah, and nonviolent or moderate political ideologies. It found some discussion about such issues among Palestinian Internet users in the West Bank but did not identify any discussion threads that addressed this issue in the Gaza Strip—an apparent affirmation that Hamas does not welcome secular reform parties under its rule.

The now-defunct Third Way (al-Tariq al-Thalith) was, until 2007, probably the most recognizable Palestinian reform faction. It advocated land for peace with Israel in accordance with U.N. resolutions 242 and 338, renounced violence, and rejected the implementation of Islamic law (Shari'a) in Palestinian society. The faction also called for a total overhaul of the Palestinian security apparatus. Formed in 2005 by current Palestinian Authority prime minister Salam Fayyad, its founding can be attributed to a rejection of both Fatah's corruption and Hamas's extremism. In the January 2006 Palestinian parliamentary elections, Fayyad and former Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) spokeswoman Hanan Ashrawi headed the Third Way list but won only two of the Legislative Council's 132 seats.[7] The faction folded when Fayyad became prime minister in June 2007. Since then, world leaders have come to view him as crucial to Palestinian reform.[8]

In the Palestinian web forums, Fayyad dominated much of the discussion but was generally described as prime minister—not a reformer. Discussion about Fayyad was divisive, attracting intense criticism from both supporters and opponents of the Palestinian Authority (PA).

For example, some forums circulated a pro-Hamas Palestine Information Center article titled "Salam Fayyad: Master or Puppet?" praising the prime minister's intellect but warning that he lacked the political expertise to lead effectively.[9] Radicalized forum users also re-posted editorials claiming that Fayyad's government has no constitutional legitimacy.[10] Others noted that Fayyad's role as financial gatekeeper had sparked tension among Fatah leaders as had his plans to declare a Palestinian state in 2011 without Hamas's involvement.[11] Another widely circulated article, "When a Fighter Turns into a Spy," criticized Fayyad's "economic peace" for turning "resistance fighters" in the West Bank into "tools of the occupation."[12] When Fayyad condemned the June 2010 attack that killed an Israeli police officer in Hebron,[13] he prompted critical comments on the pro-Hamas paldf.net website and the Iraq-focused, jihadist site alburaq.info.[14]

Whereas Fatah sympathizers used their forums as a platform to criticize their opponents (especially Hamas), few users, with the exception of a handful of bloggers, expressed viewpoints conducive to political reforms in the West Bank. Indeed, the lack of positive sentiment or even mentions of Palestinian reform was one of the most important findings of the study.

This runs counter to Fayyad's image in the West where he is widely revered for revitalizing the West Bank, reforming state institutions, and presiding over unprecedented Palestinian economic growth. So much so that New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman coined the term "Fayyadism" to describe his approach to Palestinian governance: basing legitimacy on transparent and efficient administration, rather than the rejectionism, personality cults, and security services that marked Yasser Arafat's regime.[15]

Yet, online discussions indicate that Palestinians often regard Fayyad as a Western puppet in general and a collaborator with Washington and Jerusalem in particular.[16] Some Palestinians believe Fayyad remains in office only to please Western donors. This suggests that the higher quality of life and political changes Fayyad has delivered to the Palestinians may be less important to them than the perceived need for conflict with Israel.

Islamism among Palestinians

While political reform lacks support in the Palestinian web environment, Islamism is alive and well with Hamas maintaining a particularly strong presence. Palestine's Dialogue Forum is a popular forum that draws high traffic from readers of Hamas's official media page, the Palestinian Center for Media. Hamas also maintains a strong presence on the "I'm the Muslim" Network for Islamic Discussion, which hosts heated debates among jihadists. It also regularly posts press releases from Fatah's armed wing, the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, and the global Islamist group Hizb at-Tahrir. Hamas is also active on al-Jazeera Talk, which maintains a steady presence of Muslim Brotherhood supporters, as well as Salafists and al-Qaeda sympathizers.

Palestinians on these forums expressed dissatisfaction about the Hamas-Fatah conflict,[17] but Hamas supporters only occasionally engaged their Fatah foes on Fatah forums. More often, they used the forums to reinforce their own opinions. Palestinian Internet users slammed Fatah for its continued reliance on the United States, Jordan, and Israel to maintain security in the West Bank.[18] They also accused the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority of torture and murder, denigrated West Bank police as "Abbas's militias," and referred to the detainment of Hamas members as "kidnappings."[19]

Rather than seeking unity with their more secular foes, many online Hamas supporters occupied themselves with the challenge of reconciling Hamas's ideology with that of more radical users. While numerous Salafist sites (mojahden.net, atahadi.com, hanein.info, alrepat.com, alqimmah.net, and almedad.com) criticized Hamas, debates between Salafist sympathizers and Hamas supporters were more commonly found on larger, ideologically diverse forums such as aljazeeratalk.net and muslm.net.

During the monitoring period, political sub-forums on aljazeeratalk.net hosted heated debates on questions of Islamic piety between Salafists and users who sympathize with Hamas and its parent organization, the Muslim Brotherhood. From time to time, one poster would declare another takfir (an accusation whereby one Muslim accuses another of apostasy).

Salafists and Hamas, however, showed no disagreement on the topic of Israel. It should come as no surprise, then, that the resumption of Palestinian-Israeli peace talks prompted a flurry of discussion on pro-Hamas sites wherein users generally agreed that the move "does not reflect the will of the Palestinian people."[20]

Online conversations reflecting Salafist[21] influence addressed a range of topics, first and foremost the prospect of violence against Israel in religious terms. In the views of many Salafist users, jihad is a legitimate method of resistance to Israel and an obligation for all Muslims as Israeli control over what they regard as Muslim lands merits violence.

Other issues that attracted Salafists' attention include the alleged corruption of Fatah leaders, coupled with the notion that they served as agents of the West; descriptions of Israeli "occupation" as part of a broader theological battlefield, including conflicts in other Muslim countries (such as Iraq and Afghanistan); the practice of takfir (declaring one's Islamic opponent an apostate) on less religiously-committed Palestinians; and the implementation of Shari'a in an eventual Palestinian state.

One particularly revealing discussion surrounded al-Qaeda's popularity among Palestinians. Palestinian users on aljazeeratalk.net wrote that they "respect" al-Qaeda but do not believe that Salafist ideology is popular among Palestinians. Others disagreed. One Palestinian forum member explicitly disavowed support for al-Qaeda, saying that he used to take pride in the group but that its supporters on the forum showed him that they "surpass even Fatah in their hatred for Hamas," prompting two other users based in the Palestinian territories to express similar views.[22]

There was also some evidence of friction between Salafists and Hamas. Many of the Salafi users on mojahden.net, atahadi.com, and almedad.com condemned Hamas for "waging war" against Salafists in Gaza, pointing to the bloody August 2009 clashes between the group and members of the Salafist faction Jund Ansar Allah (JAA) in the Gaza Strip town of Rafah.[23] Hamas supporters expressed anger that JAA had declared takfir on Hamas; JAA supporters denied that it had while Salafists criticized Hamas for cracking down on JAA operatives in Gaza. Forums at mojahden.net, atahadi.com, and almedad.com also proved fertile ground for Salafist Palestinians to express their ideologies and condemn Hamas for being "un-Islamic" and forsaking the fight against Israel in the interest of staying in power. Salafist users on muslm.net openly referred to Hamas leaders as infidels.

Several posts suggested deeper Salafist penetration of Palestinian society. The Salafist site alfaloja.net, for example, re-posted reports from the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz that al-Qaeda operatives in Yemen had sent West Bank militants a guide detailing how to use a car engine to build a light aircraft that could be used to launch attacks against Israel.[24] A regular contributor on aljazeeratalk.net denied these allegations but acknowledged the existence of ties between al-Qaeda and certain Palestinian groups.[25]

Like the Salafists, Hamas supporters generally favored continued attacks against Israel. A handful of pro-Hamas users on aljazeeratalk.net and paldf.net even called for attacks from the West Bank. One user stated that rocket attacks from Gaza were no longer necessary since Gaza had been "liberated" after Israel's unilateral withdrawal from the territory in 2005,[26] but this was a minority opinion.

One lively debate on paldf.net illuminated divisions over Hamas's strategy. Discussing the future of Hamas rule in Gaza, the group's online supporters disagreed over the wisdom of direct confrontation with Israel but ultimately discussed how Hamas should bring rival factions into the fight against Israel instead of clashing with them.[27]

In short, the Palestinian social media environment offers no indication that Hamas seeks peace with Israel. There were no scored posts on this topic on any of the pro-Hamas forums. Nor were there any posts attributed to pro-Hamas users on this topic on other web forums.

All in all, Palestinian Islamist activity online mirrors what many observers have already reported, namely, that Salafism has a growing number of adherents online and that rejectionism is the dominant position among Hamas users online, casting doubt on claims that the group privately wishes to negotiate peace with Jerusalem and Washington. Finally, Hamas remains entrenched in a civil war with Fatah and does not appear eager to end it, as evidenced by the repeated online attacks it has launched against the rival organization.[28]

Fatah

Relevant posts scored over the course of nine weeks reveal Fatah to be a faction in disarray. Indeed, the organization has undergone something of an identity crisis since the collapse of the Oslo process in 2000 and 2001.[29] From a political perspective, Fatah lacks leadership. From an ideological perspective, it lacks direction. Palestinian web users indicated this repeatedly on Fatah's two online forums: Voice of Palestine and Fatah Forum.

For example, the announcement that Mahmoud Abbas would meet with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) during his June 2010 visit to the United States prompted anti-Fatah users to post scathing criticisms of both AIPAC and the Palestinian Authority president.[30] Fatah supporters largely ignored the visit until reports surfaced of Abbas's statement that he "does not deny the Jews' right to the land of Israel" (translated by major Arab news outlets as "right to land in Palestine"),[31] prompting discomfiture among Fatah's online supporters. Fatah users posted divisive comments on the Voice of Palestine site, lamenting Fatah's renunciation of armed resistance and even admitting that the movement is "in decline."[32]

Fatah supporters also weighed in on a Palestinian attack on an Israeli patrol in the West Bank town of Hebron that killed one Israeli police officer and wounded three others. They re-posted articles carrying the PA's condemnation of the attack even as Hamas supporters and other users accused the PA of "valuing Jews more than Palestinians."[33] Ironically, it was ultimately Fatah's al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades that claimed responsibility for the attack (along with a new group called Martyrs of the Freedom Flotilla), highlighting the deep divisions within Fatah itself.[34]

On the issue of violence, Fatah supporters online fall into two camps of roughly even strength: those who support nonviolent means of protest and those who yearn for a return to the "Second (al-Aqsa) Intifada" of 2000-05. Whether this correlates to the way Fatah members actually view conflict with Israel will need to be verified.

Nonetheless, most Fatah supporters on the web embraced the notion that Israel was an enemy rather than a peace partner. One particularly popular post during the study period was a report that appeared on Fatah forums alleging that Israel seeks to "separate Gaza from the West Bank" and, thereby, "liquidate the Palestinian national project."[35] This, however, did not prevent these supporters from voicing loyalty to the Fatah leadership despite its engagement in negotiations with Israel.

The Peace Process

During the observation period, despite positive developments from the Palestinian perspective, a noticeable majority of Palestinian social media commentary on the peace negotiations was negative.

In his address to the Muslim world from Cairo on June 4, 2009, President Obama declared that the Palestinians' situation was "intolerable." [36] He has since pressed Israel to cease all development in the West Bank and placed an unprecedented emphasis on freezing construction in East Jerusalem. U.S.-Israel relations came under particular strain in March 2010 when Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the White House. Amidst a disagreement over building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, Obama reportedly humiliated the Israeli prime minister by walking out on the Israeli delegation to have dinner with his family.[37] While Netanyahu and Obama had a more cordial meeting in July,[38] Israelis continue to distrust the president. According to a March 2010 poll, 9 percent of Israelis said that Obama's administration is pro-Israel while 48 percent called it pro-Palestinian.[39] These sentiments likely hardened in July after the Obama administration upgraded the diplomatic status of the Palestinian Authority in Washington to that of a general delegation, which was largely viewed as a step toward Palestinian statehood.[40]

Yet despite these advances for the Palestinians, they showed little optimism online about the U.S.-led peace process. The study analyzed sentiment on a variety of topics, including religious and political reasons for rejecting the peace process; rationales for refusing to deal with Israel; mistrust of Israel's motives; the perception that peace talks are futile; mistrust of the United States as a negotiator; anger at the PA for "selling out the resistance"; and an overall unwillingness to compromise on key issues such as borders, settlements, and the right of return—the standard Palestinian and Arab euphemism for the demographic destruction of Israel.

Users on pro-Hamas forums such as mahjoob.com and paldf.net asserted that the return to peace talks "does not reflect the will of the Palestinian people" and decried the recent U.S. move to transfer $150 million to the PA as "bribery."[41] The website paldf.net, which is popular among supporters of Palestinian militant groups, served as a venue for Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine to post statements rejecting the resumption of negotiations.

Indeed, most users on a broad spectrum of Palestinian sites viewed violence as a legitimate alternative to negotiations and rejected Israel's political and territorial claims. Users on forums such as arab-land.net and the radical blog gulooha.blogspot.com distributed editorials expressing negative sentiments about the peace process by Egyptian columnist Fahmy Howeidy, as well as al-Quds al-Arabi editor Abdul Bari Atwan, who raised the specter of an "open intifada" in the West Bank.[42] An article on the Islamist website islamtoday.net echoed these sentiments, noting that an impasse in the peace process could turn into an "armed uprising."[43]

Palestinian Internet users often dismissed potentially positive diplomatic steps. Abbas's June 2010 visit to the U.S. prompted a flurry of negative responses, including pointedly derogatory comments surrounding his meeting with AIPAC.[44] And as also noted above, even on pro-Fatah sites including palvoice.com, Fatah members lamented their leaders' renunciation of armed resistance.[45] One popular posting (re-posted on the Arabic blog aggregator amin.org and the reform-leaning alhourriah.ps) asserted that Israel was incapable of "unilateral" peace due to a lack of political will and that the two-state solution was "on its deathbed"—meaning that the Palestinians needed to consider a one-state solution to the conflict.[46]

Conclusion

This examination of the Palestinian Internet social media environment found the following trends:

Many Palestinians do not support the efforts to achieve peace. Despite the Obama administration's recent push to bring an end to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and perhaps even help the Palestinians declare a state, not to mention its online efforts through a State Department initiative to win Palestinian hearts and minds,[47] Palestinian web users show a distinct lack of interest in peace. The language of rejectionism remains prevalent, commentary on peace talks is overwhelmingly negative, and potentially positive diplomatic steps are generally ignored.

Palestinian Salafism is on the rise. There is a small but distinct Salafist influence in the Palestinian online environment. Whether this translates to growing popularity on the ground in either the West Bank or the Gaza Strip remains a subject of debate. Yet Washington cannot discount the potential for cooperation between Salafists and Hamas.

Fatah, which currently represents Palestinians in the U.S.-led peace talks, is in disarray. Fatah's online supporters typically vilified Israel, and few expressed positive sentiments about peace. They break down into two factions of roughly equal strength: one that supports nonviolence, and one that seeks armed conflict and terrorism against Israel.

The Islamist Hamas shows little desire for a negotiated peace with Israel. While Hamas is not monolithic, nearly all of its supporters on the Internet continue to support violence against Israel. On this issue, Hamas showed no apparent disagreement with Salafists. On the contrary, Hamas's online supporters often seek common ground with these radical groups.

The three-year conflict between Hamas and Fatah is not likely to end soon. The two sides regularly trade barbs online, and the study found little evidence of rapprochement. Indeed, Hamas members appeared to be more interested in reconciling with Salafists than with Fatah members. Social media suggests that the Palestinian internecine conflict stemming from Hamas's violent 2007 takeover of Gaza remains a challenge to the Obama administration's peace plan.

Palestinian reform factions are weak. These groups have little influence online, raising red flags about institution building and liberalization. The lack of positive sentiment, or even mentions of Palestinian political reform, is striking. This raises troubling questions about the Obama administration's lack of emphasis on Palestinian political institutions as well as concerns about the viability of a Palestinian state if one is to be created.

Apparently displeased with the findings of this study, Palestinian pollster Khalil Shikaki has reportedly dismissed "the idea of having a representative sample by looking at the Internet" as "absolutely ridiculous."[48] Yet it is precisely because Palestinian polling data (including Shikaki's own) has been so wildly inaccurate that the need to gauge Palestinian public opinion by alternative means has become so urgent. Indeed, while it remains unclear how accurate social media is as a bellwether of Palestinian political beliefs, the administration should consider the extent to which these findings represent the broader Palestinian population, perhaps through additional long-term studies, preferably before Washington suffers more humiliating setbacks in its efforts to promote Middle East peace.

FDD Study Methodology

FDD selected ConStrat, a Washington, D.C.-based web analysis company, to collect data for this study. ConStrat used advanced technology usually employed on behalf of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) to cull information from search engines, unstructured social media sites, YouTube, Twitter, social networks, wikis, and RSS feeds.

From May 3 through July 3, 2010, ConStrat viewed approximately 10,000 Palestinian social media entries and analyzed approximately 20 percent of them based on their relevancy. In the end, the company analyzed 1,788 statements contained within 1,114 unique posts across 996 threads written by 699 authors. When substantive discussion threads —positive or negative—matched our taxonomy on topics ranging from jihad to reform, we included them in our study. In short, the study surveyed the breadth of opinion on the Palestinian web in Arabic.

It was difficult to pinpoint the exact level of Internet usage among Palestinians. Freedom House estimates that only 4 percent of Palestinian houses have an Internet connection while the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics estimates that in 2009, 28.5 percent of Palestinian households had Internet access, though these statistics do not account for the widespread use of hundreds of Internet cafés in the Palestinian territories.

However, while social media users represent a small and better educated segment of Palestinian society, online social networks provide important political insights because they grant their users anonymity and freedom of expression. This is particularly true with regard to the Palestinian online environment, which is remarkably open, unlike that of the majority of the Arab world, as Israel provides the Palestinian territories with unfettered internet access.

FDD instructed ConStrat not to provide percentages for the sentiments and trends observed in this study. Indeed, we believed percentages would reinforce a disingenuous notion that ours was a statistical survey. The goal was simply to provide an accurate snapshot of what Palestinians were saying online during a nine-week period and share those results in an effort to prompt further study and exploration.

Jonathan Schanzer is vice president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

[1] Jonathan Schanzer and Mark Dubowitz, "Palestinian Pulse: What Policymakers Can Learn from Palestinian Social Media," Federation for Defense of Democracies, Washington, D.C., Oct. 19, 2010.

[2] PSR Index of Polls: Polls conducted since the year 2000, Palestinian Center for Policy and Research, Ramallah, accessed Oct. 27, 2010.

[3] Martin Kramer, "Polls that Hid Hamas," Sandbox, Jan. 28, 2006.

[4] "Nata'ij al-Intikhabat at-Tashri'iyya 2006," Palestinian Central Elections Committee, Ramallah, Jan. 29, 2007.

[5] Kramer, "Polls that Hid Hamas."

[6] The New York Times, Jan. 30, 2006.

[7] Kevin Peraino, "Palestine's New Perspective," Newsweek, Sept. 4, 2009.

[8] Keir Prince, "Palestinian Authority Reform: Role of the International Community," Arab Reform Bulletin, Carnegie Endowment, Washington, D.C., Nov. 14, 2007.

[9] See, for example, "Salam Fayyad: Sayyid am Adah?" Palestine's Dialogue Forum, accessed May 8, 2010.

[10] See, for example, "Mufawadat Tahn al-Ma," Palestine's Dialogue Forum, accessed May 4, 2010, and Ard al-Arab, accessed May 4, 2010.

[11] "Fatah Tuqirru Mujaddadan bi-l-Khilafat baina Fayyad wa-Abbas," Palestine's Dialogue Forum, accessed May 6, 2010.

[12] "Indama Yatahawal al-Munadil ila Jasus," Abu Mahjub, accessed May 19, 2010.

[13] Ynet News (Tel Aviv), June 14, 2010.

[14] "Atfal Ghaza Yahrukun Suwar li-Salam Fayyad fi Lailat Tawaqquf Mahattat Kahraba Ghaza," Palestine's Dialogue Forum, accessed June 27, 2010; "Jama'a Tutliqu ala Nafsiha Shuhada'a Ustul al-Hurriyya Tatabanna Maqtal Shurti Israil[i] fi-l-Khalil," Muntadayat al-Buraq al-Islamiyya, accessed June 15, 2010.

[15] Thomas Friedman, "Green Shoots in Palestine," The New York Times, Aug. 4, 2009.

[16] Peraino, "Palestine's New Perspective."

[17] See, for example, Maan News Agency (Bethlehem), July 7, 2007; The Daily Star (Beirut), Aug. 18, 2007.

[18] The Wall Street Journal, Oct. 15, 2009.

[19] See, for example, "Al'an Milishiyat Dayton Tashunn Hamlat I'tiqalat Sharisa Taalat Ru'asaa Baladiyyat wa-Qiyyadat Hamas," Palestine's Dialogue Forum, accessed May 25, 2010.

[20] See, for example, "Taher Annunu: Taqdiruna al-Amiq li-l-Dawr at-Turki bi-Itijah al-Qadiya al-Filistiniya," Palestine's Dialogue Forum, accessed May 5, 2010; "Dhikra Amaliyat Rishon Le-Zion al-Butuliya: Tabannaha al-Qassam ba'da 6 Sanawat," Palestine's Dialogue Forum, accessed May 7, 2010.

[21] Some analysts make a distinction between adherents to Salafism and Salafi-jihadists, who use Salafism to justify violence in the name of this school of Islamic thought. For the purposes of this article, Salafists will describe both subscribers to this fundamentalist doctrine and perpetrators of violence on its behalf.

[22] "Ansar Hamas baina al-Aala li-bani Alman wa-l-Ada li-Ahl at-Tawhid," al-Jazeera Talk, accessed June 10, 2010.

[23] Barak Mendelsohn, "Hamas and Its Discontents," Foreign Policy, Sept. 9, 2009.

[24] "Al-Qaeda Baathat Mua'kharan bi-Kurrasat Irshad li-Nashataiha fi Ghaza … Ha'aretz Tazaama anna at-Tanzim Yadfau bi-Itijah Muwajaha baina Hamas wa-Israil al-Ithnain," al-Faloja, accessed May 24, 2010.

[25] "Ha'aretz: al-Qaeda fi-l-Yemen Tursil Mudarribin ila Ghaza," al-Jazeera Talk, accessed June 1, 2010.

[26] BBC News, Sept. 12, 2005.

[27] "Ra'i fi Muqawamat Ghaza wa-Ru'ya li-l-Marhala al-Qadima," Palestine's Dialogue Forum, accessed June 19, 2010.

[28] The New York Times, Mar. 10, 2009.

[29] "Palestine: Salvaging Fatah," International Crisis Group, Middle East Report 91, Nov. 12, 2009.

[30] "Indama Nataqaha ar-Rais al-Filastini: Abbas Yu'akkid ala an li-l-Yahud Haqq fi Filastin," Aqsaa.com, accessed June 15, 2010.

[31] Ha'aretz (Tel Aviv), June 10, 2010.

[32] "Kalam…fi…al-mamnua," Palvoice, accessed June 13, 2010.

[33] "Hukumat Fayyad tudin maqtal shurti Isra'ili," Muntadayat al-Qumma, accessed June 16, 2010.

[34] "Al-Muqawama al-Filastiniyya taqtul dabitan kabiran fi Jaysh al-Ihtilal fi amaliyya naw'iyya bi-l-Khalil," Muntadayat al-Wadad, accessed June 15, 2010.

[35] See, for example, "Fatah tuhathir min al-Mukhattat al-Isra'ili li-Tasfiyat al-Mashru al-Watani al-Filastini," Muntadayat Intifadat Filastin, accessed June 16, 2010.

[36] Barack Obama, "The Cairo Speech," The New York Times, June 4, 2009.

[37] The Washington Post, July 7, 2010.

[38] Associated Press, July 7, 2010.

[39] The Jerusalem Post, Mar. 26, 2010.

[40] United Press International, July 23, 2010.

[41] "Al-Awda li-l-Mufawadat laysat Qararan Filastini," Palestine's Dialogue Forum, accessed May 9, 2010.

[42] "Mufawadat tahn al-Ma'," Ard al-Arab, accessed May 4, 2010.

[43] "Al-Muqata'a tughliq Masani Isra'iliyya," Islam Today, accessed May 17, 2010.

[44] United Press International, June 10, 2010.

[45] See, for example, "Kalam...fi...al-mamnua," Palvoice, accessed June 13, 2010.

[46] "Isra'il 2010 ajiza an al-Harb wa-as-Salam wa-l-Ahadiyya Aidan," Shabakat al-Internet li-l-I'lam al-Arabi, accessed May 26, 2010.

[47] "Digital Outreach Team," U.S. Department of State, Washington, D.C., Jan. 2009.

[48] Jonathan Guyer, "Attitude Problem: What Social Media Can't Tell Us about Palestine," Foreign Policy, Oct. 28, 2010.