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comment by Jerry Gordon

ed-ah890_book07_20080716181915.jpgKenneth Pollack, ex-CIA Middle east analyst, former Clinton era NSC staffer and policy wonk at the liberal Brookings Institute has a new book out: “A Path out of the Desert.” Bret Stephens comments on in this Wall Street Journal Books report. Pollack you may recall was an item on Cable TV news commenting on the run up to and immediate post conflict stage of the Iraq War in 2003 to 2005. He had favored the incursion and toppling of the Saddam Hussein Ba’athist regime. However, he didn’t agree with the Bush administration occupation and government restoration phase. Pollack in this book says it was good to get into Iraq and topple Arab autocratic regime to make a pathway for democracy to flower in the sand traps of the convulsing Middle East As Stephens point out in his review of Pollack’s tome, Pollack chastises Bush for not doing enough to assist in regime change of other Arab autocratic regimes, for example Mubarak in Egypt. Pollack doesn’t lay too much of a glove on Saudi Arabia that ranks pretty low in terms of ‘democracy’ for a wealthy religiously fanatic Arab Muslim country. Probably because the Desert Kingdom and keeper of the flame of Wahabbism has lots oil that we and the world consume to a fare thee well. Besides the Saudis can afford to fob us off with ‘taqiyya.’

Stephens does note some of Pollack good sense and sharpest criticism of the Arab autocrats that is reflected in the periodic analyses of the UN Human Development Reports on the Arab Muslim countries:

    It’s a misleading title, except perhaps metaphorically, since his path requires the U.S. to remain in the desert for decades in order to help sort out the region’s myriad problems and set it on a path toward greater democracy, better governance, stronger economic growth, less cultural insularity and so on. Sound familiar? It could almost be called the Bush Doctrine, were it not for the author’s embarrassment about all things Bush.

    Also persuasive is Mr. Pollack’s diagnosis of much of what ails Arab societies. The region has the world’s highest unemployment rate. Oil-rich states cosset their industrial and service sectors with subsidies, guaranteeing inefficiency. The quality of education is low, and there’s too much of it: Every year, Arab universities graduate thousands of young men and women whose aspirations exceed their actual skills. Legal systems don’t work, corruption is rampant and bureaucracies are almost comically bloated: In Kuwait, more than 90% of the national work force is employed by the government.

    It gets worse. In Mr. Pollack’s reading, the Arab world exists in what he calls a “pre-revolutionary” state, similar to that of Russia in the late czarist period. There is a dangerously bulging youth cohort: 44% of Egyptians, 48% of Palestinians and 53% of Yemenis are between the ages of 15 and 29. Violence – in the form of government repression, terrorism, revolution, ethnic and sectarian conflict, interstate war, and civil war – has been pervasive from Algeria to Lebanon to Bahrain. Islam, often radical and politicized, is on the rise: In Egypt, there is now one mosque for every 745 people, up from one for every 6,031 in 1986, despite a doubling of the population. And rather than attempt genuine reform, Arab governments are constantly finding pretexts and methods to go on with business as usual, thereby aggravating the problems described above.

    Having laid out a mostly accurate picture of where the Middle East stands today – and how it got there – Mr. Pollack proceeds to offer his version of a cure. In its broad contours, it’s a sound one: The U.S., he writes, must begin “draining the swamp” in which the Arab world’s various pathologies fester. It must prod both our allies and our enemies in the region to mend their ways. And it must have faith that more democratic systems can take root even in the Islamic world. “Despite the fact that George W. Bush said it was the best thing for us to do,” he writes, humorlessly, “it actually is the best thing for us to do.”

Despite these useful nostrums of Pollack, Stephens notes:

    Finally, Mr. Pollack’s policy prescriptions on such key issues as Iraq, Iran and the Israeli-Palestinian crisis amount to the usual mush of olive branches, carrots and sticks, peace processes, and tactical options for policies A, B and C. This is not a new grand strategy but a continuation of what the U.S. has been doing, with varying degrees of emphasis and success, for decades. If that’s any indication of how an Obama administration might act, I won’t sleep any worse at night. But neither will I get my hopes up for a Middle East that’s any better than the declining place of Mr. Pollack’s grim telling.


by Bret Stephens, Books, The Wall Street Journal, July 17, 2008

A Path Out of the Desert
By Kenneth M. Pollack
(Random House, 539 pages, $30)

Kenneth Pollack is a hard man to pin down. A former CIA analyst and member of the Clinton administration’s National Security Council now affiliated with the left-leaning Brookings Institution, he made a qualified case for invading Iraq in “The Threatening Storm,” which appeared six months before the invasion itself. Two years later he produced “The Persian Puzzle,” which urged the U.S. to pursue a negotiated settlement with Iran.

Now Mr. Pollack has given us “A Path Out of the Desert,” billed in its subtitle as a “grand strategy for America in the Middle East.” It’s a misleading title, except perhaps metaphorically, since his path requires the U.S. to remain in the desert for decades in order to help sort out the region’s myriad problems and set it on a path toward greater democracy, better governance, stronger economic growth, less cultural insularity and so on. Sound familiar? It could almost be called the Bush Doctrine, were it not for the author’s embarrassment about all things Bush.

That’s not a bad thing, either, at least if it gives the author whatever liberal street cred he needs to remain an influence on the thinking of the Democratic Party. At his best, Mr. Pollack is a thorough and clear-eyed analyst who knows his subject well and isn’t prone to wishful thinking. The book’s early sections examine U.S. interests – oil and Israel take pride of place – to show why we cannot easily disengage from the Middle East.

Mr. Pollack is particularly good at exposing the myth that close U.S. ties to Israel worsen our relations with other Arab governments or explain popular hostility to America: Our patronage of Arab dictators such as Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak has more to do with that. Nor has America’s “tilting” toward Israel complicated efforts at Mideast peacemaking. On the contrary, as he writes, U.S. support for the Jewish state “helped convince the Arabs that they did not have a military option against Israel.”

Also persuasive is Mr. Pollack’s diagnosis of much of what ails Arab societies. The region has the world’s highest unemployment rate. Oil-rich states cosset their industrial and service sectors with subsidies, guaranteeing inefficiency. The quality of education is low, and there’s too much of it: Every year, Arab universities graduate thousands of young men and women whose aspirations exceed their actual skills. Legal systems don’t work, corruption is rampant and bureaucracies are almost comically bloated: In Kuwait, more than 90% of the national work force is employed by the government.

It gets worse. In Mr. Pollack’s reading, the Arab world exists in what he calls a “pre-revolutionary” state, similar to that of Russia in the late czarist period. There is a dangerously bulging youth cohort: 44% of Egyptians, 48% of Palestinians and 53% of Yemenis are between the ages of 15 and 29. Violence – in the form of government repression, terrorism, revolution, ethnic and sectarian conflict, interstate war, and civil war – has been pervasive from Algeria to Lebanon to Bahrain. Islam, often radical and politicized, is on the rise: In Egypt, there is now one mosque for every 745 people, up from one for every 6,031 in 1986, despite a doubling of the population. And rather than attempt genuine reform, Arab governments are constantly finding pretexts and methods to go on with business as usual, thereby aggravating the problems described above.

Having laid out a mostly accurate picture of where the Middle East stands today – and how it got there – Mr. Pollack proceeds to offer his version of a cure. In its broad contours, it’s a sound one: The U.S., he writes, must begin “draining the swamp” in which the Arab world’s various pathologies fester. It must prod both our allies and our enemies in the region to mend their ways. And it must have faith that more democratic systems can take root even in the Islamic world. “Despite the fact that George W. Bush said it was the best thing for us to do,” he writes, humorlessly, “it actually is the best thing for us to do.”

Where Mr. Pollack errs is in the details, in matters large and small. In his rage against the Bush administration, for instance, he laments that the president failed to raise the subject of political reform with Mr. Mubarak “in April 2004, less than three months after the second inaugural address.” Er, fact check, please: Mr. Bush gave his second inaugural, which vowed to put freedom at the center of U.S. foreign policy, in January 2005.

More substantively, Mr. Pollack seriously underrates the specifically Islamic contribution to the region’s woes. Instead, he blames religion generically – along with the usual socio-politico-economic sourness – for radicalizing so many young Middle Easterners. Yet not a single Christian became a suicide bomber during the second intifada, never mind that Palestinian Christians suffered as much at the hands of Israelis as Palestinian Muslims. That’s not to say that Islam is incompatible with democracy. But Islam, at least as it’s widely practiced in the Middle East today, has often been in sharp tension with the liberal habits of mind that sustain democratic institutions over time. A religion that preaches death for apostates is not necessarily one that will easily tolerate other forms of dissent.

Finally, Mr. Pollack’s policy prescriptions on such key issues as Iraq, Iran and the Israeli-Palestinian crisis amount to the usual mush of olive branches, carrots and sticks, peace processes, and tactical options for policies A, B and C. This is not a new grand strategy but a continuation of what the U.S. has been doing, with varying degrees of emphasis and success, for decades. If that’s any indication of how an Obama administration might act, I won’t sleep any worse at night. But neither will I get my hopes up for a Middle East that’s any better than the declining place of Mr. Pollack’s grim telling.

Mr. Stephens writes Global View, the Journal’s foreign-affairs column.

 

comment by Jerry Gordon

2663571369.jpgThe National Post of Canada (NP)was one of the few mainstream publications to comment on the Second study of Saudi textbooks that Nina Shea of the Hudson Institute and Commissioner of the USCIRF spear headed. This National Post blog post has access to their story on the USCIRF Saudi texts report and fascinating but chilling excerpts of the Saudi texts in translations, as well as, the full report. Read the NP article of the Second Saudi texts study. It is one of the best around in the media and has telling comments from an interview with Ms. Shea.

Posted: July 17, 2008, 8:38 PM by Ronald Nurwisah, National Post blog
World

The Post’s Charles Lewis has written on a report from a U.S. think tank that condemns the textbooks used in Saudi Arabian schools and those funded by the Saudi government abroad.

From the story:

Despite a promise to remove attacks on other faiths from the public school curriculum, Saudi Arabia’s state-produced textbooks still refer to Jews and Christians as apes and swine, insist that Jews conspire to take over the world and on Judgment Day “the rocks or the trees” will call out to Muslims to kill the Jews, says the Washington-based Hudson Institute, a conservative think tank.

The ‘educational’ materials also attack homosexuality, other Muslim sects (the Saudi royal family are firm believers in the fundamentalist Wahhabi doctrine of Islam), and espouse violent jihad.

The problem is not a new one. Nina Shea, wrote a report in 2006 on Saudi textbooks and the U.S. State Department has been pushing Saudis to change their curriculum by a September, 2008 deadline.

“They want to take some of the pressure off by promising to make the changes ,but they are fairly confident that the State Department will not go after them and will not even bother to open the books or translate them, which they have not done at all.”

Here are a few more examples from Saudi textbooks:

On the ‘role’ of Jews in world history

Examples of how the Zionists achieve their goals:

1. Sedition, ruses, and conspiracies throughout history. Examples include:
a. When the Prophet fled to Medina he concluded a treaty with the Jews there. They soon reneged on the agreement and began to use their poison to encourage divisions among Muslims. They incited the polytheists against the Muslims until the Prophet expelled them [the Jews] from Medina in disgrace.
b. Ibn Saba the Jew engaged in sedition against the Caliph Uthman Bin Affan. One of the results of his destructive movement was the martyrdom of Uthman at the hands of revolutionaries. Ali put up fierce resistance against the movement of Saba and he pursued the followers of Ibn Saba2.
c. The French Revolution: The Jews exploited the French Revolution to fight against religion, break down values, and spread meaningless slogans. They had a hand in planning the revolution and its code of morals.
d. The First World War: The Jews played a role in starting it.

Destructive Movements that Zionism has used to achieve its aims

1. Freemasonry. This is a secret Jewish organization that works surreptitiously to advance larger Jewish interests. Masonry is a deceptive word that fools listeners into thinking that it is a noble profession, since it means “free builders” and its slogan is “freedom, brotherhood, and equality.”

2. B’nai B’rith, or sons of the covenant. This group was founded in 1834 in America.

3. International Lions Clubs. “Lions” means lions. These are Masonic clubs based in America and they have secret agents all over the world.

4. Rotary Clubs. They were founded in 1905 in Chicago, America, and then spread all over the world.

On homosexuality:

Homosexuality is one of the most disgusting sins and greatest crimes. God did not afflict any people with this before [He afflicted] the folk of Lot, and He punished them as He punished no one else. It is a vile perversion that goes against sound nature, and it is one of the most corrupting and hideous sins.

Read more excerpts from Saudi textbooks.

Read the full report from the Hudson Institute

 

comment by Jerry Gordon

samir-kunar-logo.gifIt took enormous courage for the widow of Danny and mother of Einat and Yael, then 4 and 2, to even write this Washington Post op ed. How can any mother not scream about the monstrous death of her Einat who watched as her father was shot to death in front of her by deranged Palestinian and Lebanese terrorists. One of them then 16 year old Sami Kuntar, a Lebanese Druze killed Einat by smashing her head with his rifle butt. Meanwhile Smadar watched in terror hiding as terrorists rampaged in their home smothering tiny Yael with her hand over her daughter’s mouth.

As we posted on the Israeli prisoner exchange this week, all Israel got back were the remains of two dead soldiers, Reservists Regev and Goldwasser, while releasing Kuntar and four other Lebanese terrorists and the remains of over 250 terrorists killed by the IDF.

The sickening tableau of these murderers released by Israel when they passed back into Lebanon was disgusting. They were ’saluted” by troops of the UNIFIL in Southern Lebanon, rice and rose petals were thrown by ululating Lebanese Muslim shia on the hundreds of returned coffins, Kuntar and the live four other terrorists were greeted as ‘heroes’ by Hezbollah leader Sheik Nasrallah, sycophantic Lebanese Christian President Michel Suleiman and Prime Minister Fuad Saniora, an alleged ’secular’ Sunni Muslim.

If this was the old Israel of “Munich,” then the Israeli security cabinet would order Mossad and the Sayeret commando of the Prime Minister’s office to hunt down and kill Kuntar and the other freed Lebanese terrorists. Instead we have the incompetent corrupt PM Olmert and his wretched Kadima coalition government .

Hunting down and killing Kuntar and the four other Lebanese terrorists is the only justice that the Israeli government can give to Smadar, the widow of Danny and mother Einat and Yael.

By Smadar Haran Kaiser, Washington Post, July 18, 2008

Abu Abbas, the former head of a Palestinian terrorist group who was captured in Iraq on April 15, is infamous for masterminding the 1985 hijacking of the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro. But there are probably few who remember why Abbas’s terrorists held the ship and its 400-plus passengers hostage for two days. It was to gain the release of a Lebanese terrorist named Samir Kuntar, who is locked up in an Israeli prison for life. Kuntar’s name is all but unknown to the world. But I know it well. Because almost a quarter of a century ago, Kuntar murdered my family.

It was a murder of unimaginable cruelty, crueler even than the murder of Leon Klinghoffer, the American tourist who was shot on the Achille Lauro and dumped overboard in his wheelchair. Kuntar’s mission against my family, which never made world headlines, was also masterminded by Abu Abbas. And my wish now is that this terrorist leader should be prosecuted in the United States, so that the world may know of all his terrorist acts, not the least of which is what he did to my family on April 22, 1979.

It had been a peaceful Sabbath day. My husband, Danny, and I had picnicked with our little girls, Einat, 4, and Yael, 2, on the beach not far from our home in Nahariya, a city on the northern coast of Israel, about six miles south of the Lebanese border. Around midnight, we were asleep in our apartment when four terrorists, sent by Abu Abbas from Lebanon, landed in a rubber boat on the beach two blocks away. Gunfire and exploding grenades awakened us as the terrorists burst into our building. They had already killed a police officer. As they charged up to the floor above ours, I opened the door to our apartment. In the moment before the hall light went off, they turned and saw me. As they moved on, our neighbor from the upper floor came running down the stairs. I grabbed her and pushed her inside our apartment and slammed the door.

Outside, we could hear the men storming about. Desperately, we sought to hide. Danny helped our neighbor climb into a crawl space above our bedroom; I went in behind her with Yael in my arms. Then Danny grabbed Einat and was dashing out the front door to take refuge in an underground shelter when the terrorists came crashing into our flat. They held Danny and Einat while they searched for me and Yael, knowing there were more people in the apartment. I will never forget the joy and the hatred in their voices as they swaggered about hunting for us, firing their guns and throwing grenades. I knew that if Yael cried out, the terrorists would toss a grenade into the crawl space and we would be killed. So I kept my hand over her mouth, hoping she could breathe. As I lay there, I remembered my mother telling me how she had hidden from the Nazis during the Holocaust. “This is just like what happened to my mother,” I thought.

As police began to arrive, the terrorists took Danny and Einat down to the beach. There, according to eyewitnesses, one of them shot Danny in front of Einat so that his death would be the last sight she would ever see. Then he smashed my little girl’s skull in against a rock with his rifle butt. That terrorist was Samir Kuntar.

By the time we were rescued from the crawl space, hours later, Yael, too, was dead. In trying to save all our lives, I had smothered her.

The next day, Abu Abbas announced from Beirut that the terrorist attack in Nahariya had been carried out “to protest the signing of the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty” at Camp David the previous year. Abbas seems to have a gift for charming journalists, but imagine the character of a man who protests an act of peace by committing an act of slaughter.

Two of Abbas’s terrorists had been killed by police on the beach. The other two were captured, convicted and sentenced to life in prison. Despite my protests, one was released in a prisoner exchange for Israeli POWs several months before the Achille Lauro hijacking. Abu Abbas was determined to find a way to free Kuntar as well. So he engineered the hijacking of the Achille Lauro off the coast of Egypt and demanded the release of 50 Arab terrorists from Israeli jails. The only one of those prisoners actually named was Samir Kuntar. The plight of hundreds held hostage on a cruise ship for two days at sea lent itself to massive international media coverage. The attack on Nahariya, by contrast, had taken less than an hour in the middle of the night. So what happened then was hardly noticed outside of Israel.

One hears the terrorists and their excusers say that they are driven to kill out of desperation. But there is always a choice. Even when you have suffered, you can choose whether to kill and ruin another’s life, or whether to go on and rebuild. Even after my family was murdered, I never dreamed of taking revenge on any Arab. But I am determined that Samir Kuntar should never be released from prison. In 1984, I had to fight my own government not to release him as part of an exchange for several Israeli soldiers who were POWs in Lebanon. I understood, of course, that the families of those POWs would gladly have agreed to the release of an Arab terrorist to get their sons back. But I told Yitzhak Rabin, then defense minister, that the blood of my family was as red as that of the POWs. Israel had always taken a position of refusing to negotiate with terrorists. If they were going to make an exception, let it be for a terrorist who was not as cruel as Kuntar. “Your job is not to be emotional,” I told Rabin, “but to act rationally.” And he did.

So Kuntar remains in prison. I have been shocked to learn that he has married an Israeli Arab woman who is an activist on behalf of terrorist prisoners. As the wife of a prisoner, she gets a monthly stipend from the government. I’m not too happy about that.

In recent years, Abu Abbas started telling journalists that he had renounced terrorism and that killing Leon Klinghoffer had been a mistake. But he has never said that killing my family was a mistake. He was a terrorist once, and a terrorist, I believe, he remains. Why else did he spend these last years, as the Israeli press has reported, free as a bird in Baghdad, passing rewards of $25,000 from Saddam Hussein to families of Palestinian suicide bombers? More than words, that kind of cash prize, which is a fortune to poor families, was a way of urging more suicide bombers. The fortunate thing about Abbas’s attaching himself to Hussein is that it set him up for capture.

Some say that Italy should have first crack at Abbas. It had already convicted him of the Achille Lauro hijacking in absentia in 1986. Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi now wants Abbas handed over so that he can begin serving his life sentence. But it’s also true that in 1985, the Italians had Abbas in their hands after U.S. fighter jets forced his plane to land in Sicily. And yet they let him go. So while I trust Berlusconi, who knows if a future Italian government might not again wash its hands of Abbas?

In 1995, Rabin, then our prime minister, asked me to join him on his trip to the White House, where he was to sign a peace agreement with Yasser Arafat, which I supported. I believe that he wanted me to represent all Israeli victims of terrorism. Rabin dreaded shaking hands with Arafat, knowing that those hands were bloody. At first, I agreed to make the trip, but at the last minute, I declined. As prime minister, Rabin had to shake hands with Arafat for political reasons. As a private person, I did not. So I stayed here.

Now I am ready and willing to come to the United States to testify against Abu Abbas if he is tried for terrorism. The daughters of Leon Klinghoffer have said they are ready to do the same. Unlike Klinghoffer, Danny, Einat and Yael were not American citizens. But Klinghoffer was killed on an Italian ship in Abbas’s attempt to free the killer of my family in Israel. We are all connected by the international web of terrorism woven by Abbas. Let the truth come out in a new and public trial. And let it be in the United States, the leader in the struggle against terrorism.

Smadar Haran Kaiser is a social worker. She is remarried and has two daughters.

 

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    “There is in every true woman’s heart, a spark of heavenly fire, which lies dormant in the broad daylight of prosperity, but which kindles up and beams and blazes in the dark hour of adversity.”

    Washington Irving

 

Uncommon Senate Hearing Discusses Islamist Group Agendas
Muslim woman exposes CAIR to Congress. “I understand that for most Americans, dealing with Islamism is extremely difficult because it is associated with Islam. Very few people dare to question the beliefs or actions of Muslims for fear of being called a bigot or an Islamophobe.”

Tears for a Terrorist
Omar Khadr’s Academy Award winning (whining?) performance on the video released earlier this week by his attorneys was created to garner sympathy for the poor, misguided youth’s travails at Guantanamo Bay. But this is hard to swallow when one remembers that Khadr is a member of the “first family of terror” in Canada and supported jihad while following in the footsteps of his dad, Ahmed Khadr, an Egyptian immigrant to Canada, and a high-ranking al-Qaeda member and financier, his sister Zaynab who was charged with smuggling al-Qaeda propaganda into Canada and his brother, Abdullah Khadr, who is imprisoned in Canada on terrorism charges, as he awaits extradition to America. Sell it to the French, would ya’?

Italy grapples with polygamy

Nonie Darwish describes the misery for women inherent in Islamic polygamy.

“The Muslim marriage contract by itself is unfair for woman because in it men have three more spaces to fill out by three more women…That sets up the women against each other. Women are very hostile to each other. They don’t trust each other. They don’t form organizations to better themselves or have comon cause to fight for and this is all because of the problem of polygamy… It’s in the back of the mind of every Arab woman, every Muslim woman that in time of trouble my husband can solve a problem by marrying somebody else, without even my knowledge.”

Four cleared over Madrid terror blasts

The man who trades freedom for security does not deserve nor will he ever receive either.
Benjamin Franklin

First Guantanamo war-crimes trial set to begin

In a victory for the Bush administration in its protracted quest to prosecute terrorism suspects held at Guantanamo, a federal judge in Washington on Thursday rejected defense attorneys’ appeals to halt the trial of Osama bin Laden’s former driver, Salim Ahmed Hamdan of Yemen, and it will get underway Monday.

Egypt’s men blame women for harassment

Nearly two-thirds of Egyptian men admit to having sexually harassed women in the most populous Arab country, and most say women themselves are to blame for their maltreatment, a survey shows. 62 per cent of Egyptian men reported perpetrating harassment, while 83 per cent of Egyptian women reported having been sexually harassed. Nearly half of women said the abuse occurred daily.

Muslim taxi drivers refuse blind fares with ‘unclean’ guide dogs

Here we go again. Time to consider a new career.
 

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