Thursday, 23 October 2014
Dr. Emmanuel Navon..
22 October '14..
Recent talks about the Arab Peace Initiative beg disbelief. The Arab world is a war zone. Syria has been destroyed by a more than three years of an ongoing civil war. Iraq and Libya have imploded, replaced by belligerent fiefs. Lebanon has lost its sovereignty to Iran and Hezbollah. The Islamic State organization is spreading despite Western airstrikes, and it might overtake the weak Hashemite Kingdom. Iran now controls four Arab capitals: Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut, and Sanaa. How foolish and paranoid of Israel, then, not to thankfully grab the peace promised by the world’s most violent, dysfunctional, and war-torn region.
The “Arab Peace Initiative” is an oxymoron. It calls for an Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights to achieve peace with Syria. One minor problem is that Syria no longer exists. Is Israel supposed to sign a peace agreement with Bashar Assad, who barely controls a quarter of his virtual country, or with ISIL?
On the Palestinian issue, the text of the initiative calls for “a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem to be agreed upon in accordance with UN General Assembly Resolution 194.” The meaning of this article is that Israel should agree on the so-called right of return of the Arabs who lived here until 1948. Once Israel becomes a bi-national state with an Arab majority, in other words once Israel ceases to be the nation state of the Jewish people, it will gain recognition from its neighbors.
In 2008, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas a full Israeli withdrawal but without a full-fledged implementation of the Palestinian right of return. Abbas said he could not give in on that crucial issue.
The Arab League cannot deliver peace with Israel on behalf of a Palestinian leadership that is adamant on right of return. Not surprisingly, the Arab Peace Initiative includes the right of return by way of reference to UN Resolution 194.
If Israel had any doubts about the sincerity of its neighbors and their ability to deliver, it can certainly count on European guarantees. No European diplomat would ever buy into flimsy promises or compromise on Israel’s security. The recent donors’ conference on Gaza is a case in point.
The conference pledged $5.4 billion. Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende declared that half the amount would be dedicated to the reconstruction of Gaza. He did not explain what would happen to the other half. The reconstruction of Gaza and “the other half” will cost the European taxpayer $568 million. Luckily, European governments pledged that the money will go “only” to the Palestinian Authority (PA). There is no risk that Hamas will see any of it, even though it co-runs the PA since June 2014, and even though it has controlled Gaza since June 2007.
None of the donor countries asked Hamas to disarm, to commit not to attack Israel again, or not to rebuild its tunnels to Israel. Hamas can reasonably conclude that its decision to attack Israel turned out to be a profitable investment.
Surely, any doubts about Europe’s firmness are outweighed by America’s reliability. The Obama Administration knows how to be tough on Iran. It just provided advanced notice to Tehran of the anti-IS American airstrike plans in Syria. Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei recently revealed that US Secretary of State John Kerry had approached his Iranian counterpart to coordinate the struggle against IS. Former US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta admitted in his recently published book (“Worthy Fights”) that the precipitous departure of American forces from Iraq removed the United States as a bulwark against Shiite sectarianism and Iranian influence.
The Obama Administration is being outmaneuvered by Iran. Turkish President Recep Erdogan has been wavering about joining the anti-IS coalition because he wants an American commitment to topple Assad. Such a commitment, however, would undermine the Obama Administration’s cooperation with Tehran against IS. Indeed, Iran’s deputy foreign minister recently warned that any American attempt to topple Assad would put Israel at risk. Hezbollah’s attack against Israel on October 7 was likely a hint about Iran’s seriousness.
Those “peace-processors” who claim that Israelis should take their fate into their hands are therefore correct, but for the wrong reasons. They would have us rely on the peaceful intentions of jihadists, believe in the sincerity of the Europeans, and trust the competence of the Americans.
With a fate like this in your own hands, you need good feet with which to run.
Emmanuel Navon chairs the Political Science and Communication Department at the Jerusalem Orthodox College and teaches International Relations at Tel-Aviv University and the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center. He is a Senior Fellow at the Kohelet Policy Forum.
Wednesday, 22 October 2014
As chairman of the Annasr mosque, Mimoun Aquichouh personally knows a number of young men who left the small Belgian city of Vilvoorde to wage jihad in Syria.
They worshiped at his mosque on a quiet street in the former industrial city just north of the capital Brussels as they fought their own personal struggles before finding the path of jihad, much to Aquichouh's dismay.
Their stories offer a glimpse into the minds of some of the estimated 325 young Muslims from Belgium and around 3,000 from across the European Union who have joined the Islamist militant cause in Syria and Iraq.
"I know some of them, those who frequented the mosque just before leaving," Aquichouh told Agence France Presse in the offices of his mosque.
The place of worship has no minarets and stands behind a grey-stone building on a street of terraced houses.
"They were young people with no diploma, who had problems with the law, who had problems with society and who did not work," he said.
"These were young people who had a background of drugs and theft."
He recalled one young man who struggled with both a drug problem and confusion over his cultural identity in a Flemish city with a large community of Moroccan origin.
"Sometimes you see him dressed 100 percent in European clothes, and sometimes you see him in (traditional) long clothing. He was lost," Aquichouh said.
He was waging a "jihad al-nafs," or personal struggle to fight his "bad desires," and found the power to do so in religion, the Muslim community leader said.
- Sense of injustice -
Per capita, Belgium has produced the highest number of so-called foreign fighters in the EU, an estimated 325, according to officials. European capitals have been clutching at responses for stemming the flow of jihadists to Syria and Iraq.
Aquichouh said the lure of Islamist militant propaganda was another factor.
He cited an Internet video showing how the militants had four-wheel drive cars, were armed and were masters of their own destiny with plenty of land and money.
"What they forgot to say in the propaganda is that behind all that there are bombs, there are tanks, there is a dirty war with people killed and seriously wounded," he said.
The propaganda also plays into a sense that "Muslims are unjustly treated in the world," he said.
He said he never had the chance to intervene to stop anyone because "these were young people I never thought would leave."
Vilvoorde mayor Hans Bonte, who also knows some young Muslims who became jihadists, said the process of radicalizing young men and even young women can take only a few months.
Bonte, who was invited to the United States last month to share his views on radicalization, said community leaders must act fast to prevent jihadist recruiters from isolating and preying on vulnerable young people.
The community response, he said, must involve teachers, youth workers, social workers, sports clubs staff and others to spot signs of radicalism. Then police or even a favorite teacher or friend can intervene to stop them, he told AFP.
In one success in May, he said, police and social workers managed to stop two girls from Vilvoorde, one 14 and the other 15, from leaving nearby Brussels airport for Syria via Turkey.
Parents may at first be happy to see their children suddenly stop drinking alcohol and start praying at the mosque, study Arabic and wear traditional clothes, and in the cases of their sons, grow beards.
But these may be the first signs of radicalization, he said.
- Real enemies -
"There is a point in the radicalization process that anyone who has a different opinion than they have are real enemies," Bonte said.
"And against real enemies you can do anything you want," he added.
The mother of one young man who left for Syria told the mayor how she suddenly found her son threatening to kill her if she prevented him from travelling there.
Bonte said that in the last two years at least 27 Muslims, including two young women, have left Vilvoorde to wage jihad in Syria and Iraq, an unusually high number for a city of 40,000 people.
Aquichouh thinks the number is no more than 20 jihadists out of 5,000 Muslim families in Vilvoorde.
In Brussels, the Christian mother of a young man who converted to Islam when he was a teenager and whom she believes became a jihadist in Syria, is distraught over her son's choice.
"Our children are victims and are not terrorists. The terrorists are the leaders," said the woman who declined to be named and who does not know how her son radicalized.
"I felt him demoralized sometimes...He wanted to live in the land of Islam," she said.
Matters raised included the threat posed by extremism, particularly by those returning from conflict zones in the Middle East such as Syria and Iraq.
As well as addressing threats to the security of Jewish institutions and individuals, some broader issues of extremism were discussed, particularly the issue of online radicalisation and social media, with the Minister explaining how Britain was working with international partners to tackle the issue of extremism online.
Mr Brokenshire said that “Nothing can justify threats or violence against anyone because of their faith. We need to be confronting all forms of extremism and be much less tolerant of intolerance.”
“The Government has been clear about the need to close any gaps in our response to the terrorist threat and a new counter-terrorism bill will be introduced before the end of November. The Home Office will also be leading further work across government to confront extremism in all its forms”.
Tuesday, 21 October 2014
Last week, UKIP’s grouping in the European Parliament was forced to dissolve after an MEP from Latvia decided to leave, meaning they no longer had members from enough countries to continue. This would have cost UKIP around £1 million a year in public funding.
Fortunately, a Polish MEP has agreed to join Farage’s Europe for Free and Direct Democracy group (EFDD), and restore UKIP’s lucrative funding. Unfortunately, it appears he is absolutely awful.
New EFDD recruit Robert Iwaszkiewicz has praised wife-beating, as it would “help bring many wives back down to earth”, and praised Hitler because “taxes were lower in Hitler’s time”.
According to The Guardian, Iwaszkiewicz’s party leader Janusz Korwin-Mikke (who gave his blessing for Iwaszkiewicz to work with UKIP) used his position to launch n-word laden tirades in the European Parliament (contains strong language):
Not that this just any racist rant – this is an argument against the minimum wage.
“We must destroy the minimum wage and we must destroy the power of trade unions.”
The party that Iwaszkiewicz and Korwin-Mikke are members of is so extreme that they question whether Hitler knew about the Holocaust and French fascist Marine Le Pen has ruled out an alliance with them because their “political views ran contrary to our values”.
Is there anyone UKIP wouldn’t ally themselves with for money?
UPDATE: An earlier version of his article suggested that the man in the video was Robert Iwaszkiewicz rather than his party leader Janusz Korwin-Mikke.
Board Vice President Jonathan Arkush said: “The Board is gravely concerned by reports that UKIP may sit in the same parliamentary grouping as a far-right Polish MEP in a bid save its funding. Robert Iwaszkiewicz belongs to an extremist party whose leader has a history of Holocaust denial, racist remarks and misogynistic comments. He belongs to the far-right Polish JKM, led by Janusz Korwin-Mikke who has reportedly called into question the right of women to have the vote.
“Furthermore, we entirely reject UKIP’s justification that ‘All groups in the European Parliament have very odd bedfellows (and) The rules to get speaking time and funding are set by the EP, not UKIP’. Extremists and racists should be roundly rejected, not embraced. Even France's far right Front National rejected the JKM as being too extreme.
“For UKIP to choose such a figure as Robert Iwaszkiewicz as a bedfellow, apparently for money, is beyond belief. Nigel Farage now has some very serious questions to answer. He has placed in issue the credibility of UKIP."