March 2010

The Northern Tinder Box / Jonathan Spyer

The war of words is continuing. The latest salvoes were fired last week by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, and his Lebanese ally and client Hassan Nasrallah. Ahmedinejad reportedly told Nasrallah that if Israel attacks Hizballah, the response should be sufficient to lead to the closure, once and for all, of the Israeli 'case.' In the same week, Nasrallah promised attendees at a 'Resistance Martyrs Day' celebration that his movement would target Israel's infrastructure in the event of further hostilities.

Haroon Siddiqui,al-Haq and Btselem's Double Standards / Jonathan D.Halevi

Toronto Star columnist Haroon Siddiqui bashed the decision made by the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development to cease grants to Israeli and Palestinian human rights organizations in his January 30, 2010 article “How the Harperites ambushed the rights agency.”

Siddiqui writes the following in this regard:

Americans Love Israel even more than You Think / Prof.B.Rubin

International relations isn't a popularity contest. But public opinion polls can be useful in countering myths and examining the impact of policymaker, elite, and media campaigns on the masses.

Which brings us to Gallup's latest poll measuring how Americans feel about different countries. The more one examines the results, the more amazing they are. Americans two favorites are, not surprisingly, fellow English-speakers Canada and the United Kingdom. Then come-Americans are very forgiving-two former enemies, Germany and Japan.

Islamic Apartheid Month coming to a City Near You / Phyllis Chesler

Guess who’s coming to California State University at Sacramento? None other than CAIR — only this time they’re pairing Japanese American students with Muslim American students for a three hour workshop: “Voices Unite in Solidarity; Japanese American Students and Muslim American Experiences Post-9/11.”

Makes sense, given all the recent and multiple Japanese-American underwear, shoe, and body-cavity bombers. Gotta stop those Japanese jihadists.

Apartheid Week - Hypocrisy at its best / Jonathan D.Halevi

Five hundred artists from Montreal have recently signed a statement “to support the international campaign for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions against Israeli apartheid.” The Canadian artists blame Israel for intentionally harassing and bringing disaster to the peaceful Palestinian people during more than 60 years and fail to mention the word “terrorism” even once.

What Does Assad Want? Jonathan Spyer

In Damascus last week, the full array of leaders of the so-called 'resistance bloc' came together in a series of meetings. Presidents Ahmedinejad of Iran and Assad of Syria were there, alongside a beaming Khaled Meshal of Hamas and Hizballah General-Secretary Hassan Nasrallah. There were some lesser lights too to make up the numbers - including the PFLP-GC's Ahmed Jibril, a fossil from the old alphabet soup of secular Palestinian groups.

The mood - replicated a few days later in Teheran - was one of jubilant defiance.

The Saudi Foreign Minister Explains the New Middle East / Prof.B.Rubin

Here's today's evidence that we are now living in Middle East 2.0 instead of the old version.

First, a definition:

Middle East 1.0: Characterized by Arab nationalist domination, competition among the strongerArab states to lead the region and by the weaker ones trying to survive those campaigns. Arab-Israeli conflict is a real enterprise. Roughly 1952-2000 or so. International aspect: Cold War competition between the United States and USSR and, near the end, US as sole superpower.

Understanding and Attempts to Resolve the Israeli - Palestinian Conflict /Prof.B.Rubin

Last September, President Barack Obama said before a large audience at the UN that within two months there would be intensive, direct, final status talks between Israel and the Palestinians. Sort of a Camp David III. Now, six months later we are back in the pre-1992 era of indirect talks.

Yet reporters still ask, and write, that this might be the prelude to some grand breakthrough and a comprehensive peace deal. When will they ever learn? Never, apparently.

Is Israel a Colonial State?The Political Psychology of Palestinian Nomenclature / Irwin J.Mansdorf

Israel's creation, far from being a foreign colonial transplant, can actually be seen as the vanguard of and impetus for decolonialization of the entire Middle East, including a significant part of the Arab world, following the fall of the Ottoman Empire.
What is not popularly recognized is how the Arab world benefited from the Balfour Declaration and how it served the Arab world in their nationalist goals and helped advance their own independence from the colonial powers of England and France.

Explaining the Middle East / Prof.B.Rubin

I've finally gotten my explanation of Middle East history and contemporary issues into one lecture, given at the prestigious Munk Hall lectures at the University of Toronto. Hope you can watch it.

Criminal Naivete: A 1936 Article Shows The Costs of Believing Dictators' Lies

There needs to be a much clearer understanding of why the West—and especially its political elite and intellectuals—has so much trouble comprehending the world, especially the Middle East.

A Festival of Hatred / DR.I.Barnir

With a lot of fanfare the Hate Fest dubbed “Israeli Apartheid Week” opened in campuses worldwide. For the last six years this vile event has become a fixture on the agenda of the self styled community of “Israel’s Critics”. Like previous years, this year’s event, scheduled to take place from March 1, through March 13, 2010, features endless diatribes condemning Israel delivered by a host of “enlightened” intellectuals and academics. Among the keynote speakers in the various happenings one can find many prominent Israeli names.

How to make Defetism Look Good:Let's Give Up and Cheer the Islamists / Prof.B.Rubin

I'm not going to bash or rant about a Newsweek article about Turkey by Owen Matthews-shocking and dangerous as it is--but rather talk about what is wrong and inaccurate about it. That article is part of a new wave of defeatism sweeping the West, though it still remains subordinate to the more ostensibly attractive idea that there is no real conflict or at least one easy to fix by Western concessions.

The Palestinian Authority Walks Out of Talks with a Big Smile on its Face /Prof.B.Rubin

In 1994, Israel asserted, and the PLO accepted, that construction would continue on existing Jewish settlements. For the next 15 years, negotiations were never stopped by that building.

In January 2009, the Palestinian Authority (PA) stopped negotiations because Hamas attacked Israel from the Gaza Strip and Israel defended itself. Of course, Hamas is also the PA’s enemy and the PA would be delighted if Israel destroyed that group. But for public relations’ purposes, the PA had to pretend inter-Palestinian solidarity.

Who is Resposible for the Continuous Israeli - Palestinian Conflict / DR.Rivka Shpak Lissak

The Arab World, the Palestinians, the UN officials and the International Media, are blaming Israel for refusing to end the "Occupation" and make peace with the Palestinians.

A..Arab and Palestinian refusal to accept a 2 State Solution: History

The League of Nations recognized after First World War, the historical connection of the Jews to the Holy Land, decided to adopt the Balfur Declaration and nominated Britain to lay the foundations for a National Home to the Jews (the Mandate).

Explaining the U.S. - Israel Crisis / Prof.B.Rubin

It is important to understand that the current controversy over construction in east Jerusalem is neither a public relations' problem nor a bilateral policy dispute. It arises because of things having nothing directly to do with this specific point.

What are the real issues involved:

Hamas Fans Flames of Islamic Anger following "Day of Rage"/ Jonathan Spyer

Hamas leaders are seeking to escalate Palestinian unrest over the supposed Israeli threat to Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem. In addition to reflecting the movement's ideological goals, this effort makes good political sense.

Hamas seeks to supplant the West Bank Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad. It knows that by returning the focus of the conflict to the explosive issue of Islamic pride and outrage over the loss of holy places, it can present itself as the natural leader of the Palestinians, and its opponents as irrelevancies or, worse, collaborators.

Is Egypt's "Greatest" Archaeologist believes in Antisemitic Conspiracy Theories? Prof.B.Rubin

You, Too, Zahi? If Egypt's "Greatest" Archaeologist Believes Antisemitic Conspiracy Theories What Hope Is There For Anyone?

In an era when Islamophobia has become a sin punishable by death or mere career ruination—depending on who’s doing the punishing—it is remarkably hard to get people to understand how widespread is antisemitism in the Arabic-speaking world and in the Muslim-majority world in general. One always wants to believe that there are many exceptions, which is why I find the case of Zahi Hawass so discouraging.

A One State Solution to the Israeli- Palestinian Conflict Preached by Anti-Zionists / DR.Rivka Shpak Lissak

A One State solution to the Israeli- Palestinian Conflict, preached by Anti- Zionists is a prescription for a Bloody Civil War / DR.Rivka Shpak Lissak

A one state solution is a prescription for a continuous struggle between Jews and Palestinians. Only separation between the two nations and a 2 state solution will solve the problem.

Other Than Apartments in Jerusalem, What Else is Going on in the Middle East? Prof.B.Rubin

While the Obama Administration is fiddling over the construction of apartments in Jerusalem, the Middle East is burning. Yet these other issues don’t attract the attention—and certainly not the action—required.

1. Iran is now allied with al-Qaida: General David Petraeus, head of the U.S. Central Command, revealed a bombshell story that has been ignored: Iran is helping al-Qaida attack Americans.

CAIR Attacks Book Series on Islam:Unable to find Anything "Wrong" It Fabricates Comolaunts / Prof.B.Rubin

I've heard a lot about the methods of CAIR, and of course we are all familiar with the incredible intimidation (combined with clever strategy) used against anyone who writes about Islam in any way other than simpering reverence. But experiencing it is another matter, showing the intense dishonesty with which such campaigns are conducted. On the positive side, though, there may be some signs that media gullibility on this matter may be declining.
(Council on American- Islamic Relations - CAIR)

Ashton's Ashes:How Europe's Foreign Minister Repeats the Middle East's Cliche and Why She's Wrong / Prof.B.Rubin

Ashton’s Ashes: How Europe’s Foreign Minister Repeats the Middle East’s Biggest Cliche and Why She’s Wrong

Catherine Ashton is high representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and vice president of the European Commission. The fact that she holds such a position—in effect, she's the European Union's first foreign minister—shows Europe is in serious trouble. For Ashton’s main previous claim to fame was as a leader in the Soviet-oriented movement for nuclear disarmament of the West.

Hillary Clinton's AIPAC Speach:Find the Glaring Contradiction /Prof.B.Rubin

When policymakers say things that are in blatant contradiction, there is something wrong with their world view and strategy. Yes, political leaders often say contradictory things--often they have to do so--but it is not supposed to be too obvious.

In her speech to AIPAC, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton criticized and equated two things. On one hand, there is the Palestinian “culture of hate” which spouts “incitement” to murder Jews. The other is Israeli settlement construction. These problems, Clinton adds, “undermines America ’s unique ability to play a role” in the peace process.

Analysis:The Legacy of Mahmoud Al - Mabhouh / Jonathan Spyer

Wherever departed Hamas official Mahmoud al-Mabhouh is now, he is presumably enjoying the considerable trouble the nature of his exit is causing his Israeli enemies.

The British decision to expel an unnamed Israeli diplomat following the conclusion of an investigation into the alleged use by Israel of cloned British passports in an assassination operation probably does not signal the onset of a general crisis in relations between London and Jerusalem. Still, it is not an everyday act, and the language used by the foreign secretary in announcing the expulsion was notably harsh.

Obama's Policy on the Israeli- Palestinian Conflict is One - Sided / DR.Rivka Shpak Lissak

I do not share B.Netaniau's views on the solution of the Israeli- Palestinian conflict.

The Clinton – Barak proposal at Camp David was a fair proposal to solve and put an end to the Israeli- Palestinian conflict.

Has the Obama Administration, against U.S., Interests Declared War on Israel?Pdof.B.Rubin

Has the Obama Administration, against U.S. interests, declared diplomatic war on Israel?

Up to now my view has been that the U.S. government didn’t want a crisis but merely sought to get indirect negotiations going between Israel and Palestinians in order to look good.

Even assuming this limited goal, the technique was to keep getting concessions from Israel without asking the PA to do or give anything has been foolish, but at least it was a generally rational strategy.


For a half-century, Middle East politics were dominated by Arab nationalist regimes and movements, defined by the struggle among them for regional hegemony. Now the area has moved into a new era in which the central feature is the struggle between Arab nationalist regimes and revolutionary Islamist forces. Yet many Western policymakers have failed to understand this transformation. This article discusses the nature of the central conflict, including the identity of the Islamist side and the balance of forces.

Re-Packaging Illusion / Jonathan Spyer

The Obama administration's approach to the Middle East is characterized by an apparent desire to revive the sunny illusions of the 1990s peace process - in an era that is far more uncertain and dangerous. This is particularly noticeable in the Israeli-Palestinian arena, in which the United States, the dominant world power, sets the parameters of debate. As a result, international discussion of the conflict is now more detached from reality than at any time in the past 40 years.

Obama's Pressure Will Backfire / Prof.Eytan Gilboa

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The Obama administration is repeating a pattern
of behavior towards Israel that, as in the past, will achieve exactly the
opposite of what was intended. The intense and exclusive pressure on Israel
will result in the hardening of Arab and Palestinian positions, and will
scuttle, rather than initiate, real negotiations.

Barack Obama has already made history by being elected as the first black
president in United States' history and by being the first to bring about a
substantial reform of the American healthcare system. He was elected on the

Obama and Israel - The Audacity of Arrogance / DR.Israel Barnir

The relations between Israel and the US have reached an unprecedented low. The present state of affairs resembles the relations between the countries during the Eisenhower administration in the wake of the Suez campaign in 1956. There were additional crises during the Ford, the Carter and the first Bush administrations. The relations between a super power and a small country dependent being asymmetric by definition, such crises are bound to happen from time to time since the two do not always see things eye to eye.

The Significance of Passover for Contemporary Arab and Muslim History / Prof.B.Rubin

One of the greatest little challenges of my life--at least in terms of needing to react instantly--came when I was sitting in a meeting with high-ranking Egyptian officials during Passover. One of them asked me if it was true that the Jews had a holiday about defeating the Egyptians. I realized I had about ten seconds maximum to come up with the best answer.

And it then came to me: "Ah, I replied, those were jahiliyya times."